Smartphone theft is a massive criminal problem some parts of the country. Last year in San Francisco, half of all robberies involved a stolen mobile communications device. The problem is that phones are really easy to steal and even easier to erase and resell.
Enter Secure Our Smartphones Initiative, a new coalition of top law enforcement officials aimed at stopping cell phone theft through the use of a universal kill switch. The group has a plethora of influential members, including the attorneys general of eight states, chiefs of police from major cities around the country, and the district attorneys for New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco.
The idea behind a kill switch is simple. With the technology in place, a stolen phone can be remotely deactivated on a permanent basis. The thief would be unable to use your phone or re-sell it, effectively removing all incentive for someone to take it in the first place.
The idea of a kill switch is slowly being embraced by the mobile electronics industry. A new feature revealed by Apple, coming this Fall in iOS 7, would allow you to deactivate and erase your iPhone using your Apple ID. Once done, your user name and password will be the only thing capable of bringing the phone back to life, making it worthless to anyone but you. Of course, questions remain as to whether Apple’s protective measures will ultimately hold up to hacking efforts.
Fortunately, you don’t have to wait until the Fall to protect yourself from the rising threat of cell phone theft – there are steps you can take right now. Never leave your phone unattended, always keep your car locked and be aware of your surroundings should you need to use your phone in public. In addition, you may want to consider downloading a third-party app such as Prey to help police track down your phone should it be stolen.