NY, SF Putting End to Smartphone Theft with New Initiative
June 13, 2013 1:33 PM
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Apple's new Activation Lock for iOS 7
Apple is already on it with iOS 7's new Activation Lock
San Francisco and New York City are looking to
drop the rate of smartphone thefts
in their respective cities by launching a new initiative today.
The cities are pushing the new Secure Our Smartphones Initiative today, which aims to approach smartphone companies about possible methods for killing the stolen smartphone market. They're also announcing a new nationwide coalition consisting of police, prosecutors, political officials and consumer advocates.
The new initiative will be launched by San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who will hold a summit in NYC today with representatives of Apple, Samsung, Google and Microsoft to talk about mobile theft.
"The epidemic of violent street crime involving the theft and
resale of mobile devices
is a very real and growing threat in communities all across America," Schneiderman said. "According to reports, roughly 113 smartphones are stolen or lost each minute in the United States, with too many of those thefts turning violent."
One of the possible actions that the cities will suggest to tech companies will be a type of kill switch. This would render the stolen smartphone useless to thieves.
Smartphone theft is a major problem in both of these cities as well as the rest of the U.S. According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), nearly 1 in 3 robberies across the country are mobile phone-related.
Back in April of this year, reports circulated about San Francisco's
use of sting operations to tackle iPhone theft
. San Francisco police officers said nearly half of all robberies in the city involved smartphones last year, and most ended up at a popular street corner where the phones were resold: Seventh and Market Street.
The police officers dress more "streetlike" in a hoodie, jeans and sneakers and walk the streets of San Francisco with a bag of "stolen" iPhones to sell (the iPhones are actually borrowed from Apple for the purpose of the sting operations). He tells potential customers he has iPhones for sale, freshly stolen from the Apple Store, and that they should make him an offer (typically $25-$200). Buyers look the iPhones over to make sure they work, and once agreeing to the deal, offer the undercover cops cash. They accept, and give fellow police officers (who are parked down the street) a signal to make an arrest.
Apple recently announced at WWDC that its upcoming version of its mobile operating system, iOS 7, will have a new feature called Activation Lock. This prevents thieves from being able to turn off the "Find My iPhone" feature (which allows users to locate their iPhone no matter where it is). Also, if the thief tries to wipe the iPhone, it can't be reactivated because doing so requires the user's iCloud username and password.
"We are appreciative of the gesture made by Apple to address smartphone theft. We reserve judgment on the activation lock feature until we can understand its actual functionality," Gascon and Schneiderman said in a joint written statement.
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RE: Not bad.
6/13/2013 2:16:37 PM
My understanding of this is more than a simple data wipe which is what you see in larger enterprises, but an effort to render the device unusable which i am all for.
RE: Not bad.
6/14/2013 12:42:39 AM
Until a hacker figures out how to do a remote kill and kills every device they can - including yours.
I doubt that you will still be in favor of it then.
Unfortunately there is no security in the world that would allow this to function securely enough to be deployed. A trusted
would need to be able to do a
phone using a
interface. It would only be a matter of time before that capability was compromised and abused.
Unlike a credit card or a bank account, issuing a new phone is
a trivial task.
RE: Not bad.
6/14/2013 4:14:40 AM
Assuming you are backing up your phone on your desktop or to iCloud that isn't as big of a deal as one might initially beleive.
The big reason why Apple can implement this system so easily is because of their iCloud backups implementation and how easy it is for a user to restore backups on their iDevice. If you keep iCloud backups you don't even need a desktop computer to restore your iPhone.
Apple deserves some praise for their efforts regarding this subject.
"People Don't Respect Confidentiality in This Industry" -- Sony Computer Entertainment of America President and CEO Jack Tretton
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