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Apple has mastered the art of lockdown. Your expensive iPhone, iPad, or Mac computer can be rendered virtually useless to a would-be thief. Even more so, your private data, which can be cordoned off inside an ‘Albatross’ deep inside secure vaults within the macOS or iOS.

Apple has made a good enough job of informing users about the security features on their iDevices and computers. The most important being the Apple activation lock. A security feature that your locks your Apple device to your Apple Account.

Many a time, have computer repair shops turned back customers who walked into their premises with ‘hand-me-downs’ Apple devices that still have the activation lock on. You may try all sorts of tricks, but until the bonafide user enters their credentials to turn off the Apple activation lock. Another user will not be able to use the device.

Be Cautious of macOS Catalina Upgrade

Apple takes great pride in making devices that deter thieves from stealing them. That is partly why there are a lot of Apple fans who won’t fathom using a PC on any day. If a thief were to steal an Apple device from a user who turned on the activation lock. That device will be as good as useless to them, as they will not be able to use it or sell it.

They may get a market for some of its parts, which effectively makes their pay less compared to if they were to sell the whole computer. With the release of macOS Catalina, that activation lock is being bumped up and improved to unprecedented effectiveness.

That should be good news, right? No, not for second-hand users who go their computers from a previous user who did not deactivate the activation lock. You will now see bonafide users getting locked out of their devices. Simply because the person who first bought the computer has not deactivated the activation lock.

How to save yourself

Well, if your Mac computer asks you to upgrade to macOS Catalina. Don’t! At least not until you are certain the activation lock is not active. That is especially if you are not the first-hand user of the device.

Instead, follow Apple’s guide on wiping all data, settings, and removing the activation lock. This guide can be found here.

PS – Apple computers have been shipping with the ‘find my device’ feature for years. Though it was designed as a security feature, hackers have since found workarounds that render feature no longer reliable for locating stolen devices. Unless stolen by some very lousy thieves.

However, the T2 security chip has compensated for the weaknesses in the ‘find my device’ feature. It has made it mandatory for the user to enter their Apple ID to unlock a linked device. So while the bonafide user may not locate their stolen computer, the thief will not be able to use the computer.

This security setup is the source of headaches for many refurbishers of Mac computers around the world. They often get Mac computers that are still in pretty good working conditions, but if they have the said security feature turned on. They will have little choice but to send it to shredders.

Sometimes it is not a case of a stolen computer, but a user who sells their device, but forgets to turn off the security feature. Then the computer finds its way to shipping routes halfway across the globe, but it will never help the bonafide second-hand user.

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