Computer Business Review

Android and Windows phones to come with "kill switches"

Byomakesh Biswal

14:14, June 20 2014

Introduction of similar functions in iPhones led to a drop in theft.

Microsoft and Google have agreed to add so-called "kill switch" functions into all future Windows Phone and Android-powered devices following the widespread success of the feature in Apple's iPhones

Google will build the feature into the next version of Android, whilst Microsoft said it will introduce it in Windows Phone 8.0.

In a report prepared by the New York State Attorney General in consultation with the office of the San Francisco District Attorney and the Mayor of London, it was shown that the introduction of a kill switch function in iPhones triggered a drop in thefts.

Apple introduced the Activation Lock feature into all iPhones running on iOS 7, and in the first five months of 2014, thefts of such devices fell 17% in New York according to authorities.

The report also added that addition of the new feature led to a 24% drop in theft of Apple phones in London and a 38% drop in San Francisco in the six months since its introduction, compared to the number seen in the previous six months.

In comparison, thefts of Samsung phones in New York increased 51% during the period compared to the previous year, whilst the other cities also experienced similar rises, the report added.

The report added, "With the majority of phones still without an active kill switch, smartphone-related thefts and violence remain a tragic reality."

"Criminals have learned to target devices without available kill switches, increasing the importance of immediately implementing kill switches across all manufacturer."

In April this year, leading smartphone makers and wireless companies had agreed to incorporate anti-theft features on smartphones which would be shipped after July 2015 in the US.

In order to deter large scale smartphone theft, the Wireless Association (CTIA) has created a voluntary commitment, under which the signatories will add kill switches in smartphones an industry standard.

The kill switch will render the smartphone inoperable for any unauthorised users, remotely wipe all personal data, as well as preventing reactivation without the authorisation of the owner.

Several mobile operators and manufacturer have already signed the voluntary commitment including Apple, Samsung, Google, Nokia, HTC, Huawei, Motorola, Microsoft, Asurion, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon Wireless.


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