A new Kill Switch is to be added to Android and Windows phones in an attempt to deter thieves from stealing mobile devices. The new feature will allow for data to be remotely erased upon theft and the device locked, making it nothing but a lump of glass and plastic that has as much use as a paperweight. The phone can be restored, however can only be re-activated with the original owner’s authorization and backups from their cloud account.
The step to help curb theft was developed after evidence showed that a similar feature on Apple’s iPhones dropped iPhone theft by 17% in New York City, 24% in London and 38% in San Francisco over a 5 month period despite smartphone thefts rocketing higher than ever before. In the same time period, theft of other smartphone devices increased in this time.
These inspiring iPhone statistics still have not made a dent large enough to change theft statistics. Stats show that in 2013, 3.1 million devices in the US and 1 million devices in Columbia were stolen, as well as one third of Europeans experiencing a smartphone theft/loss. South Korea was found to be one of the most seriously affected with thefts increasing by 5 times within only a 3 year time period.
Campaigners believe Apple’s results show hard evidence that Kill Switch will resolve the issue of smartphone theft, although there are still many reasons to believe this is wishful thinking. Thieves may merely develop new strategies in order to make money from stolen devices, such as the sale of parts or even selling the device as a fully functional piece on online markets such as eBay, Amazon and Gumtree. It is still early days yet and the Kill Switch feature is unlikely to be released until next year at the earliest, however we can expect to see Kill Switch as a built in security feature to the world’s major smartphone operating systems.