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It is All About Kill Switches

September 8, 2014 | By Editor 

Summary

Android and Windows Phone mobile OS, created by Google and Microsoft respectively, are all set to get a kill switch in their next version.

The news came courtesy Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón following a report from Secure Our Smartphones (S.O.S.) initiative.

Android & WIndowphone

Kill Switches for Android and Window Phone

  • The report revealed that a few years back Apple added a kill switch to the iPhone, and the addition drastically reduced data thefts and big larcenies related to the device. On the other hand, cyber crimes against users who carry a mobile without a kill switch have increased.
  • AG Eric Schneiderman opined that the steps taken by Google and Microsoft are huge toward consumer safety with the statistics clealy illustrating the effectiveness of kill switches.
  • In just one year, the S.O.S Initiative has made massive strides toward reducing the alarming trend of violent mobile phone thefts, he further added.
  • On September 18, 2013, Apple became was the first to a add a kill switch to its iPhone.
  • Called the iPhone ‘Activation Lock,’ the kill switch, in the first five months of 2014, plummeted iOS-related thefts and big larceny incidents in New York City.

According to statistics, the iOS-related theft percentage dropped by 19 percent and grand larceny by 29 percent. This is a significant reduction when compared to the same time frame in 2013. However, smartphone thefts and grand larcenies involving Samsung mobiles increased by 40 percent. This was was before Samsung added the kill switche (Reactivation Lock) to its Verizon-based mobiles in April 2014.

Similar results were seen at San Francisco and London. In San Francisco, iPhone thefts declined by 38 percent while thefts of Samsung mobiles surged by 12 percent.
A similar outcome was seen in London as well as Apple robberies declined by 24 percent while Samsung’s rose by 3 percent.

Apple, Google, and Microsoft account for 95 percent of the smartphones in North America. Therefore, Google and Microsoft’s move to add a kill switch to their mobile OS means that a powerful anti-theft solution will be on the three leading smartphone OS.

Microsoft will extend its “Find My Phone” feature to include several new features. These include remotely wiping data from the mobile, rendering the phone inoperable, and preventing reactivation or setup among others.

The new robbery deterrent features will be given as an update for all mobiles running Windows Phone 8.0 and newer versions.For additional details on functionality and availability aspects, users will have wait till the official release, says VP of U.S. Government Affairs at Microsoft Fred Humphries.

While Google’s Christopher Katsaros informed the press that Android’s next OS will have a security solution for factory reset.

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