Opposed to kill switches on an automobiles, criminal action is being deterred with kill switches on Android devices and iPhones. After offering this anti-theft device, the number of crimes in London, San Francisco, and New York had dropped significantly.
Using this feature, an owner of an Android phone or iPhone can send a command to a stolen phone, resetting until a new ID and passcode are entered or blocking access completely. Although the kill switch technology is available, it has not yet been implemented by Microsoft.
The “Activation Lock” system was first introduced by Apple. This feature was added in 2013 as part of the iOS 7 operating system. Following implementation, officials stated that over the next 12 months statistics showed it worked incredible well. In London, theft of iPhones was down 50%, in San Francisco 40% and in New York, 25%.
The Secure our Smartphones (SOS) initiatives were created for these three specific cities in 2013 as a means of putting pressure on manufacturers of smartphones, as well as mobile networks, to help fight the growing problem of smartphones being stolen.
As stated by London’s Mayor Boris Johnson, there has been major progress in fighting theft of smartphones, something that has been impacting a lot of big cities for more than two years. George Gascon, District Attorney in San Francisco also said that the kill switch is amazing technology, something that makes it possible for smartphone owners to prevent not just stolen phones but also potential for violent crime.
The kill switch is part of the default setting on Apple’s new iPhones that run on the iOS 8 operating system so users do not have to turn it on. However, if they do not want to use the feature, it can be switched off, which is not possible on other devices.
Last October, Google announced the Android Lollipop operating system, which will have Factory Reset Protection as an opt-in feature but at this time, it is not available for all handsets. The same is true for Samsung, which offers a Reactivation Lock facility on just the Galaxy S5 smartphone. For this, the kill switch has to be turned on manually by the user.
With the SOS initiative, the goal is to ensure that all mobile devices have automatically activated kill switches, which will ensure any stolen Android devices and iPhones become 100% useless to thieves.
Going forward, Microsoft vowed a kill switch will be incorporated in smartphones that run on Windows 10 but no date for release has been announced. Qualcomm also stated that a kill switch facility known as SafeSwitch, will be offered to manufacturers, claiming their solution is superior to all others that are software-based.