Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Not Setting Up Find My Bricked My MacBook

Paul McMahon (via Hacker News):

About 30 minutes before my flight was boarding, I pulled out my laptop to do some last minute work. But when I opened it up, a stranger’s profile greeted me. Evidently we had swapped laptops going through security.


I eagerly opened the box, which had a distinctly exotic scent - perfume or spices, I couldn’t quite place it. Sure enough, there was a bubble wrapped Midnight Blue MacBook Air. Opening it up, there was a Japanese keyboard. Everything good so far.

Booting it up, something was a bit strange though. Rather than being greet by my login screen, I saw “Activate Mac”, and was prompted to select a wifi network. I did this, and then was shown an “Activation Lock” screen.


I get why Apple doesn’t want to tell me why they’re rejecting my requests to disable the activation lock, as it would help an attacker figure out how they might get a stolen MacBook unlocked. […] But come on! I bought the MacBook from Apple. I’m clearly the owner. They presumably can see that my Apple ID is associated with it. The only case I can think of where they legitimately shouldn’t unlock it is if I sold it to someone else and then stole it back from them.

I don’t like how these features are linked. If I don’t turn on Find My Mac, I can’t locate a lost Mac, and it could be bricked due to Activation Lock. But if I do enable Find My Mac, it can be remote-erased by anyone who gets into my Apple ID account.


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This is all the more worrying that getting into an Apple ID account is exceedingly easy. Has anybody tried the password reset procedure of late? Beside the user’s public email and phone number, which are seldom hard to guess, all Apple ID accounts are one SMS away from being taken over. With SIM-swapping as rampant as it is these days, one wonders why Apple persists in making “trusted” phone numbers so powerful.

I know that Recovery Keys are supposed to make matters more difficult, but, in my experience they do not — and even Apple’s account documentation contradicts itself when describing what Recovery Keys will and will not disable in the recovery process.

From an authentication standpoint, Apple IDs are a complete mess. Apple is trying to be too clever for their own good — or their users’.

I don't like how our computers are becoming more like our phones. That they now hold out credit cards, software profiles etc.

I would definitely sue Apple to unlock my device...

“ I don’t like how these features are linked. If I don’t turn on Find My Mac, I can’t locate a lost Mac, and it could be bricked due to Activation Lock.”

Wait, I thought activation lock is off if Find My is off? The above seems to imply the opposite.

I would love to have the capacity to find a lost Mac There’s no way I’m allowing remote wiping of my machine.

@Carlos My point is that if I don’t turn on Activation Lock (and therefore Find My Mac), and I lose the Mac, whoever finds it can turn on Activation Lock and lock me out of my own Mac.

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