Apple has removed an online tool which could be used by potential buyers of used iPhones and iPads in order to ensure that they are not lost or stolen. The Activation Lock Status website was removed at some point over the last few days, with no official word from Apple as to why it was removed.
Before its demise, the Activation Lock Status tool allowed users to put an iPhone or iPad’s IMEI or serial number into the web site to ensure that it did not have an active activation lock applied.
If this was the case then the chances were high that the device had been lost or stolen, and buyers would know not to make a purchase based on that information. Without the tool, potential buyers of used iPhones and iPads have little chance of knowing that their purchase is legitimate before handing over their money.
The reason for the tool’s removal from the internet – attempts to visit the site return an error – is not immediately obvious. However, the reason may be related to a hack which allowed the use of an unlocked device’s serial number to be used in order to fool Apple’s own systems into allowing a previously locked device to be activated.
The hack simply required that an invalid serial number have a digit or two changed in order to discover a valid serial number. This was then used to unlock a previously locked device, allowing it to be registered as if nothing was wrong.
This may also explain what was previously thought to be a bug which saw some users inexplicably have their devices locked with unknown PINs and account credentials. Those situations required Apple’s input to correct. It’s possible that, if related, this may explain the tool’s removal.
Whatever the reason, we can only hope that a replacement system will arrive soon, allowing used device buyers to have the peace of mind they require when making such a purchase.
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