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'Activation lock' to tighten iOS security

Apple's top-shelf security in iOS gets a bit tougher with new features revealed at this year's Apple developers conference.

If your iPhone gets stolen and Find My Phone has been deactivated, Activation Lock will prevent it from being re-used by a different Apple account. James Martin/CNET

Apple may not be able to do anything to stop a mugger from stealing your iPhone, but changes in iOS 7 will prevent the thief from trying to sell the phone as new.

At its Worldwide Developers Conference here on Monday, Apple unveiled several security enhancements. Activation Lock is the most interesting. Though the company didn't go deep into detail on the new feature, Apple's head of Mac software engineering, Craig Federighi, said the feature prevents unauthorized resetting of an iPhone or iPad.

Basically, if the Find My Phone tracking utility has been deactivated, or if the phone has been wiped, the thief will have to know the owner's Apple ID and password before the device will work again.

Smaller security improvements in iOS 7 will include per-app activation for a Virtual Private Network (VPN), allowing people to have more granular control over how their VPN settings get used; and the operating system update also will include message blocking.