iOS Passcode: Waiting Intervals for Failed Attempts

You should always use a passcode on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to protect your mails and other sensitive data. Even if you think “my data isn’t that important” keep in mind that anybody who has access to your iOS device (e.g. your stolen phone) can check where you have your mail or online shopping accounts and reset your password. The new password gets sent to your mail address which is accessible through your device. Even if the provider (a potential thief wants to reset your password at) requires additional data like the full address, your birthday or some information about your parents: you most likely lose. There is lots of data like this in your mails and address book.

Are you setting a passcode yet? Good. It’s located under Settings → General → Passcode Lock. Apple has a more thorough explanation.

While you’re at it: do yourself a favor and activate Erase Data. This will wipe your device after ten failed passcode attempts. “Just ten attempts? What if a prankster or small child has my iPhone?” I’m glad you asked:

After the sixth incorrect passcode your iPhone will be disabled for one minute. Another failed attempt afterwards and add another five minutes of waiting time. The following table lists the waiting times which are missing from Apple’s knowledge base document on this topic.

Failed Attempts Added Waiting Time Total Waiting Time
1 to 5 none none
6 1 minute 1 minute
7 5 minutes 6 minutes
8 15 minutes 21 minutes
9 60 minutes 81 minutes
10 60 minutes 141 minutes
11 black screen wiped device

After eleven failed passcode attempts (which take at least two hours and 21 minutes) your device’s screen will go black and all data will be deleted. After that you can always restore from your last backup made with iTunes — sync every day!

Getting my new iPhone 4 gave me the opportunity to try this on my 3GS; tortured in the name of science!

tags: , , ,

6 Responses to “iOS Passcode: Waiting Intervals for Failed Attempts”

  1. Trackback from Securing your iOS devices | Cyber Crime 101

    [...] attempts and you’ve got youself a pretty secure device.  Daniel Gattermann over on his Cinnamon Thoughts blog did some research on wait intervals for failed login attempts on iOS devices when the “Erase [...]

  2. Jade Forsythe says:

    If I have locked my iPhone 4 and I have to wait 60 minutes , how do I unlock my phone if someone has changed my password ?

  3. (post author) Daniel M. Gattermann says:

    Just search for “change forgotten passcode iOS” on the internet and you’ll find many sites explaining how to do it.

  4. Elena says:

    My phone locked after 10 failed attempts but I never have backed it up to iTunes! Ever but now it just won’t let me unlock it
    Even with the right password! I plugged in to iTunes no luck, help me plz

  5. (post author) Daniel M. Gattermann says:

    You should talk to Apple or go to http://discussions.apple.com/

  6. Fives says:

    As of iOS 7.1 on the 10th failed it locks for 1 minute. The 11th failed is 5 minutes wait time. I suspect each sunsequent failed attempt will increase in the intervals from the table above.

Leave a Comment!

Comments are moderated. SPAM won't be approved.

By submitting a comment you agree that your comment may appear on this site and that your e-mail address and IP address will be saved on the server (but are not publicly viewable).


313 posts. 18 pages. 423 comments. 53 categories. 33 queries. 0.413 seconds.
Blog © 2005-2014 Daniel M. Gattermann. Logos, trademarks, etc. © by their respective owners.