Aaron Johnson, a thief who stole hundreds of iPhones and used them to drain the financial accounts of his victims, is trying to make amends by explaining his methods. This is especially important as Christmas time, as many Americans give or receive new phones and should be mindful of security from the first time they power up their new smartphone.
Aaron Johnson’s story, recently detailed by the Wall Street Journal, is a reminder of the vulnerabilities that exist within our technology-dependent lives. Operating mainly in Minneapolis, Johnson employed a simple yet effective strategy to steal hundreds of iPhones and access victims’ personal and financial data.
His method involved befriending young people in bars, subtly learning their passcodes, and then stealing their phones. Once in possession of the phones, he would swiftly change the Apple ID passwords and disable the Find My iPhone feature, effectively locking victims out and erasing any traces of the phone’s location.
Johnson’s approach was not just about stealing the phones but exploiting the entire Apple ecosystem. He would add his face to the Face ID system, giving him quick access to saved passwords in iCloud Keychain. This access allowed him to loot thousands of dollars from victims’ bank accounts, savings, and cryptocurrency apps.
Johnson targeted college-aged men in dimly lit bars, leveraging their lowered guard and often alcohol-affected state of mind. When necessary, he would even search for additional sensitive information, like Social Security numbers, in the victims’ Notes and Photos apps to facilitate his financial looting.
Johnson’s crimes were not just financially devastating for the victims; they exposed a critical vulnerability in the iOS system. In response, Apple has announced the introduction of Stolen Device Protection in the upcoming iOS 17.3 update, aiming to protect against such passcode-assisted crimes. However, it’s crucial for users to remain vigilant and proactive in securing their devices.
Here’s how iPhone users can protect themselves:
- Regularly Update iOS: Ensure your device is running the latest iOS version to benefit from the latest security features.
- Enable New Security Features: Utilize features like Stolen Device Protection in iOS 17.3, which requires biometric verification for critical changes to the device’s settings.
- Create a Strong Passcode: Use a complex passcode with a mix of letters and numbers, making it difficult for thieves to guess.
- Secure Financial Applications: Add additional authentication layers to your financial apps to prevent unauthorized access.
- Be Cautious with Sensitive Information: Avoid storing sensitive data like passwords or Social Security numbers in easily accessible apps. Opt for secure password managers.
- Stay Alert: Be aware of your surroundings, especially in public places, and be cautious about sharing your passcode or leaving your phone unattended.
Read more at the Wall Street Journal here.
Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship.