// Apple Tool Checks iPhones for ‘Kill Switch’ Security’ ~ EDUCATION & TECHNOLOGY

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Apple Tool Checks iPhones for ‘Kill Switch’ Security’

The iPhone already supports that feature, and the company recently released a tool to check whether an Apple device has the kill switch turned on. Google and Microsoft will add a “kill-switch” feature to their Android and Windows phone operating systems.

As Smartphone theft has become a big problem across the world. According to a report by US authorities:

Some 3.1 million mobile devices were stolen in the US in 2013, nearly double the number of devices stolen in 2012
One in three Europeans experienced the theft or loss of a mobile device in 2013
In South Korea mobile device theft increased five-fold between 2009 and 2012
In Colombia criminals stole over one million devices in 2013

In an attempt to tackle the issue, policymakers have launched an initiative called Secure our Smartphones.

this tool is available on Apple’s iCloud website users can enter a serial number of the device or the so-called IMEI, a unique identification number assigned to each and every phone. The web tool will say whether the kill switch feature, called Activation Lock, is enabled.A new tool on Apple’s i Cloud website lets iPhone owners check to see if their device has been enabled with a so-called kill switch.Credit

If a device still has Activation Lock turned on, that could mean it has been reported lost or stolen, or the owner has simply forgotten to deactivate the feature before putting it up for sale. With Activation Lock turned on, the device could be unusable without the Apple username and password of the owner.

That comes in handy in a few cases. People buying a used iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch via eBay or Craigslist, for example, can ask for the identification number of the device before agreeing to buy it. Resellers, or businesses that buy used phones, could also require sellers to share the identification number of each iPhone so they can check whether the device has Activation Lock turned on before offering to buy it.

Apple introduced Activation Lock last year amid complaints from law enforcement authorities that phone carriers and technology companies were not trying hard enough to combat cellphone theft, which has become a frequent urban crime.

In August, Gov. Jerry Brown of California signed the measure requiring all smartphones sold in California to include a kill switch.

Microsoft and Google have said they plan to introduce the anti theft tool in future versions of their mobile software systems. The law only affects California, but phone manufacturers won’t sell two different phones. So this means that all cell phones will eventually have this capability. And, of course, the procedural controls and limitations written into the California law don’t apply elsewhere.


A “hard” kill switch would render a stolen device permanently unusable and is favoured by legislators who want to give stolen devices the “value of a paperweight”
A “soft” kill switch only make a phone unusable to “an unauthorised user”
Some argue that the only way to permanently disable a phone is to physically damage it
Experts worry that hackers could find a way to hijack a kill signal and turn off phones
If a phone is turned off or put into aeroplane mode, it might not receive the kill signal at all, warn experts


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