The good news is: Apple has unveiled a free new service that will hopefully cut down on the theft of iGadgets (more specifically, the resale of stolen iGadgets) by allowing potential buyers of used iPads, iPhones and iPods with touch screens to check whether the device was stolen from its rightful owner.
The bad news is: apparently hackers have already developed a devious workaround for it.
Here's how the Apple service works: recent generations of iGadgets come with what Apple calls an “Activation Lock” option, basically the Apple-specific name for a generic “kill switch.”
A kill switch, in turn, is an anti-theft mechanism enabling you, the legitimate owner of a smartphone or other device, to remotely kill or deactivate it, if it gets lost or stolen. The hope, of course, is that thieves will stop stealing smartphones, tablets and other pricey electronics if they know those devices will be rendered useless and worthless.
Apple's newly offered online anti-theft tool is on the iCloud website's “Activation Lock” page. Potential buyers of a used iThing can visit the page and type in the device's IMEI (International Mobile Station Equipment Identity) or serial number, to check the device's activation lock status.
If you don't know how to find the IMEI or serial number for a given device, Apple has an online list of model-specific instructions here.
Unfortunately, as PCWorld noted, hackers almost immediately figured out a way to work around Apple's system by tricking locked devices into visiting an alternative iCloud server.