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If my iPhone is stolen and the thief shut the phone down, I wouldn't be able to locate it anymore.

Is it possible to disable the possibility to shut down the phone when a passcode lock is set up?

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Define turning off. Do you mean lock the iPhone but leave the screen on? What is the use case for this? – Jason Salaz May 18 '11 at 8:46
Yes, I got a passcode lock set up and I was expecting that it will not let anybody(thieves for example) turn it off unless the correct code is entered. Basically if the phone gets turned off, it cant be tracked anymore so chances of getting it back are close to 0. – dobata May 18 '11 at 8:54
Sadly the smart thieves know to power off / remove the SIM card / put it in a faraday cage. – bmike May 18 '11 at 19:42
@bmike so why make it easier for the not so smart thieves? – Sujay Phadke Mar 29 at 5:48
up vote 13 down vote accepted

This is currently exactly how the iPhone is designed. I agree with your issue.

My answer was about to be: "Perhaps if you Jailbroke your iPhone you could install some modification software that would prevent someone from shutting it down when locked". However, there's naturally yet another level of indirection.

One of the things that you will never be able to prevent, is the device being put into DFU mode. A phone is put into DFU mode by holding down both the Sleep and Home buttons for 10 seconds, then let go of only the Sleep button (continue holding the Home button) until the phone wakes with it's "connect to iTunes" notice.

DFU mode is one of the few pure hardware modes. After putting a phone into DFU mode, it cannot be used until restored against an instance of iTunes. Which also means that the data will invariably be lost because it will be wiped upon restore of new phone setup.

A few notes:

No computer is completely secure when physical access is allowed by an unauthorized user. No amount of BIOS passwords, login passwords, or anything extended authentication will be unable to be overcome. Physical access is total access.

What I'm saying is that you should spend less of your time attempting to thwart theft, and instead set up a mechanism for safeguarding your data.

Sync regularly, configure your iPhone to wipe itself after 10 failed pin attempts, set up Find My iPhone so you can issue a Remote Wipe command.

Note that I'm not saying not to not bother mitigating theft. Getting a K-Lock if you're in a display position, a secure case so it's harder to lift from your pockets (or don't put it in your pants pocket) are all worthwhile steps to take.

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I agree with all that, but I'd add we should request Apple to take some measures to help preventing theft - iPhone does have a near 100% way of preventing official unlock so it should be possible to also achieve good results for fighting robbery if they really wanted to. – cregox May 20 '11 at 14:57
I disagree with the last sentence. If you lose physical access to your phone, there's pretty much nothing able to be done to completely lock out an intruder. If there were, the rate of bricked phones would raise substantially. Also, Aapple did something. They give Find My iPhone out for free to all iPhone 4 owners. – Jason Salaz May 21 '11 at 5:27
Apple never had physical access to any phone on the carrier lock issue. True, jailbreaking exists and it "solves" it but not exactly by removing the lock they did. Find My iPhone is only good for devices not purposely stolen. That and nothing is the same on this scenario. If the thief knows just a little bit on what he is doing, which is keeping the phone off until bringing to someone who knows better, I still think that bricking the phone (forget the data) would be the best solution and I given our current technology believe it could be done if they really wanted to. – cregox May 21 '11 at 12:28
I disagree with Jason Salaz. I know that no device is completely secure, that much is true... but if I could just have some minutes before anybody can restore/modify the system of my iPhone (or the battery goes off), and track it with "Find my iPhone", those minutes could be very valuable and worth the effort. The problem is that currently a thief can just turn it off in the moment he/she takes it in his/her hands, so "Find my iPhone" is useless and there's nothing to do. All we are asking is for some valuable minutes that Apple can give to us if they want. – user13706 Nov 15 '11 at 17:40
@Antonio I'd be more than happy to continue this conversation with you in chat, directly, or perhaps we could even make this a podcast topic. Please find a way to get in touch, this subject matter is intensely interesting and isn't talked about enough. – Jason Salaz Nov 15 '11 at 22:18

Yes, but you have to be jailbreak and go through Cydia for this.

The add-on is called iGotYa.

  • enables "Prevent OFF"
  • acquires location of a stolen device (sends via email of choice, or via sms)
  • takes a picture of the person which holds your device if they enter the wrong passcode
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It's worth noting that I'm fairly sure that a long press (15+ seconds) of the power button initiates a hardware reset, which is completely impossible to block with software.

Think about what would happen if you had no hard-reset option, and the software than handles turning off your phone crashed. You would never be able to restart it again, and it would be effectively bricked until the battery wore down, and it shut off due to lack of power.

Basically, for any complex electronics device, it certainly will crash, so there has to be a way to override any software power controls. Every computer electronics device I have ever seen has had some mode which you can use to reset it, for just this reason.

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Perhaps consider Cylay? Requires jailbreak, but can hinder shutdown.

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