This iPad’s keeping a tight lid on things

Apple prides itself on the built-in, tough-as-nails security features of its products. If it didn’t provide them, it would be savagely attacked by critics for not adequately protecting its customers and leaving them vulnerable to the ravages of global hackers.

Poor Apple, though, can’t catch a break from Josh and Patrick Grant of London,  England, who say Apple is giving them a hard time about logging into their recently deceased mother’s iPad. It seems Anthea Grant, who bought the tablet two years ago, died recently and took her passwords with her to her grave.

According to a BBC report, the two sons have hit a wall with Apple, who they say refuses to unlock the device even after the boys provided copies of her will, death certificate and a letter from their lawyer.

Apple told a London radio show the boys appeared on that it leads the industry with security protection for customers who’ve lost or have had their devices stolen. The Grant brothers say Apple now wants them to get a court order before they’ll unlock mom’s iPad.


After her death, they discovered they did not know her Apple ID and password, but were asked to provide written consent for the device to be unlocked.

Mr Grant said: “We obviously couldn’t get written permission because mum had died. So my brother has been back and forth with Apple, they’re asking for some kind of proof that he can have the iPad.

“We’ve provided the death certificate, will and solicitor’s letter but it wasn’t enough. They’ve now asked for a court order to prove that mum was the owner of the iPad and the iTunes account.

“It’s going to have to go through our solicitor and he charges £200 an hour so it’s a bit of a false economy.”

Clearly, the Grants’ dilemma is not a new issue. All you need to do to hear more tales of woe is go to Apple’s own online forum for just such predicaments. Take this post from 2013, for example, from a frustrated Apple customer nicknamed “kowetas:”


Dec 24, 2013 6:28 AM

I have an iPad that I am trying to set up for my Grandmother, which belonged to my recently deceased Grandfather. I followed instructions to reset it to factory settings but it says that I need to log in using his apple id. I know his email but I have no idea of his password. I have read that there is no way around this as you need the previous owner to remove it from his list of apple devices, but he is dead and cannot do that. Surely there must be some way to get around this, even if it involves going into a store with paperwork to prove this?

But the Grant boys, just like ‘kowetas,” should probably have a little more patience, judging by the string of responses to kowetas’ post. Most writers agreed that the only way to get the iPad unlocked is to do exactly what Apple is asking: spend the money on a few hours of a lawyer’s time and  get a court order.
Otherwise, as one writer put it: “Unless you can get Apple’s help on this, the iPad is just a useless brick now.”

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  • fstein

    Is Apple doing the right thing? Yes. Forging documents is easy. Be smart, make sure your loved ones have the passwords.

    • henry3dogg

      More than that, it isn’t Apple’s right to decide to give access. They are obliged to protect her privacy

  • Purple Flag on Saturday

    buy a new one and move on

  • zayahv2

    I sure as hell don’t want my relatives to gain access to my iTunes account which would give them access to my backups and private pictures when I die unless I specifically wanted them to.

  • Steve Hammill

    >>>Apple prides itself on the built-in, tough-as-nails security features of its products…

    It you choke as you wrote this?
    I sure hope so.

    Can you spell, SSL?

    • Bart

      Can you spell RSA? You’re a clown if you don’t acknowledge Apple has a FAR better track record on security, because they do.

      • Steve Hammill

        Apple has a substantially smaller attack surface.
        Only recently have Apple devices really become a target, so what they’ve been in the past is old news.

        Any company’s security track record is only as good as their last release. It’s time for Apple to realize that now that they are a target, a small attack surface doesn’t mean secure.

        • Bart

          Are you going to keep trotting out tired, completely bogus PC fantasies like the obscurity myth, and then spread it with the most obvious, yet condescending points to make it all seem valid? Haven’t Microsoft fanboys beat that horse to death a long time ago?

          The ‘obscurity myth’ was ridiculous in the 90’s, let alone now.

          Face facts: PC hacks have lost the “but, but, we’re the biggest” excuse now.

          APPLE is ‘obscure’? Never. They hired Microsoft (for a few applications) before gates even swindled IBM out of it’s rushed to market (because of the Apple II!) PC business.

          Are you actually trying to argue no one wants to hack the Mac or iOS–two platforms with the wealthiest user bases?

          iOS had the biggest footprint, sure, and it was fixed imeadiately. As far as the Mac goes, who on their right mind is using a desktop/laptop on an unsecured network.

          • Steve Hammill

            Attempting to shout this down is silly. Simple put, you are wrong in your assertions.

            The first real malcodes targeting the Mac OS didn’t appear until around 2005 – give or take a few years. The targeting didn’t get serious for a few more years. Claiming the obscurity myth was ridiculous in the 90s does not align with the modern, commercial-exploitation reality. When did the first commercial AV solutions for the Apple OS become a market reality? The answer speaks for itself.

            Commercial-exploitation —modern hacking— only surfaced as a “modern reality” in the first decade of the new millennium. That’s when it became apparent that hacking had become not only criminal but also a commercial endeavor with financial rewards. Some of this corresponded with the appearance and popularity of the “Second LIfe” virtual reality environment that served as a payout conduit for some of these commercial hacking enterprises. That is not an indictment of Second Life, just the way it played out for a few years in the first decade of the 21st century.

            Hacking any OS has been a reality since the first worm in the wild in the 80s…and even before in controlled environments. The Apple/Mac OS just wasn’t a popular target; windows was easier and there were more computers available to target.

            There are numerous white papers describing the evolution of hacking in that regard written by far more knowledgeable people than either of us. I’d encourage you to read a few of those papers.

            The reality is that there were/are many Windows computers that remain vulnerable even though patches are/have been available, in some cases, for many years.

            As the competition for economic rewards hacking Windows limited profitability, hackers expanded their market to the Mac OS. This made the Mac OS, which was becoming increasing popular in enterprise environments, a more financially attractive target.

            The Mac OS has always been hackable for skilled attackers.

            So what are you defending, gross negligence in QA testing?

            Mac OS security, like any OS – or any application, is only as good as the most recent release.