Smartphone Kill Switch: What It Is, How It Might Work

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gm0n3y

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Having a way to brick your phone if it is stolen would be great, but seems technologically unlikely to happen. Short of physically breaking the device (which would be extremely difficult), any software attempts will be thwarted by criminals. Of course just making it more difficult may be enough to put off common criminals from stealing cell phones.

I'm actually surprised by the 3 million phones stolen statistic. I can't think of anyone I know having their phone stolen.
 

Jerky_san

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"Why do you need a kill switch?" - So when a large protest starts happening in this country they can kill everyone's cellphone stopping the spread of information.. Look what happened at the Bart station in california..
 

BMAuEagle

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I think this is a waste of time and resources. It's crazy to force companies to make a product that is ultimately the individual's responsibility a certain way to prevent it from being stolen with legislation. It's nice have it on Apple and Samsung products, but those are premium products. The added security is a feature of the premium product that people pay for. If you are worried about your phone being stolen, then be aware that you are holding a device in the palm of your hand that is worth 100's of dollars to someone out there who will take it if the opportunity arises. Else, buy a cheap phone that nobody will think twice about stealing.
 

derekullo

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Let's say the smartphone companies came up with a way to hard kill a phone. It would have to either be sent through the cellular tower or wifi. Both of which are well known vectors of attack.
What happens when a hacker gets a hold of said technology and starts a phone bricking party?
 

none12345

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Actually a hardware kill switch is really easy. All they have to do is over current a chip, or section of a chip and fry it out. Its easy to add that in if they want. Its not like you can repair 1 fused transistor among billions of others in a processor.

They shouldn't ever do this tho. If they can fuse hardware remotely. Hackers WILL find a way to do it, and there WILL be millions of bricked phones. Guaranteed to happen. Can you imagine the chaos frying 50 million phones on one day would cause? You can bet there will be thousands of people trying to do it, for that badge of honor(or shame, however you want to look at it); and they will most certainly succeed.

If you want a conspiracy theorist viewpoint. What happens when the government decides to turn off all phones for whatever reason. Sure, it probably wont ever happen. But that is FAR too much power to have.

Or the far more likely. What happens when they accidentally fry your phone instead of someone else's because they typed in the serial number wrong. Oops too bad, we killed all your data, so sorry, have a nice day.

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Even the soft kill switch is an extremely bad idea. Its too much power to have the ability to turn off every phone at will. Sure sure, its not going to happen, untill it does.

Even with a soft kill switch, think of how long it woudl take to reauthorize 300 million phones, if someone decided to kill them all for fun.
 

dro2

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Hence why I switched Apple products. Apple dictates to the cellular carriers unlike Samsung who simply says yes masta yes masta.
 

thxext

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I think there is less care about theft then the number of individuals that have been attacked so their phone can be taken from them. No phone is worth your life or harm. Unfortunately, I don't think this is the solution. I am not expert, but it would seem a hard-coded S/N and some sort of black list may work better.
 

cats_Paw

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Another reason not to have a smartphone at all (now maybe they say its for your own good, but lets see how they would actually use the technology... I still remmber when Paul Denton got his kill switch activated).
 

Akizu

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I think there is less care about theft then the number of individuals that have been attacked so their phone can be taken from them. No phone is worth your life or harm. Unfortunately, I don't think this is the solution. I am not expert, but it would seem a hard-coded S/N and some sort of black list may work better.
Phones already have IMEI numbers... All that is needed is ensuring that its impossible to change that number and making phones report that number to the network while connecting to it. Then network providers would just need to make a black list, so if you would report a phone as stolen it would get blacklisted by all operators. If a stolen phone would have to be shipped to different country to work that would make phone theft way less profitable and an international blacklist would make such phones worthless. If such system would be implemented on all new phones then within 2~3 years (when all models that don't support this would go down in price) phone theft would go down considerably. (as long as it would be impossible to change IMEI or make phone report itself to the network as some older model)
 
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