A woman in China got an unwelcome surprise after giving her iPhone to her toddler in January. According to a media report cited by the , she grabbed it back to find that it was disabled for some 25 million minutes—roughly 47 years—presumably due to a truly heroic number of incorrect PIN attempts. As a result, she was stuck having to wait for the timer to tick down, or with the alternative of wiping her phone.
Such lockouts are a built-in feature in iOS, designed to prevent bad actors from breaking into phones with the help of software or machinery that could brute force a four-digit pin in short order. According to Apple's documentation, a device becomes . Optionally, users can enable a feature that will . In this case, the child evidently tried a whole lot more than 10 incorrect PINs, disabling the phone and adding time to its countdown timer with each one. We've reached out to Apple to see if a total of 25 million minutes or more is, in fact, technically possible without modified hardware or software. While incidents like this are obviously rare, .
When the woman went to an Apple store for help, she was reportedly told to wait out the time or wipe her phone and start fresh. A tough choice, but one borne out of actual good security; there's no backdoor for better or for worse.