Comments
Smartphone Kill Switches Coming, But Critics Cry Foul
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anon8724146329
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33%
anon8724146329,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/16/2014 | 10:17:18 AM
This is bad. Very, very bad.
In an era where there are serious - and legitimate - concerns about government overreach and Orwellian invasion of privacy, giving the same Government the ability to just shut off individual communication mechanisms becomes a tool on the workbench of Totalitarianism. 


I'll skip the politcal paradigm nonsense and say that *any* Federal government - regardless of party - having this kind of control should be a serious concern for civil liberties of every US Citizen.
anon9406324789
IW Pick
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anon9406324789,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/16/2014 | 10:35:48 AM
Re: This is bad. Very, very bad.
Government is not gettting any ability here. This is a function that owner of the phone can deploy. It is a way overdue feature that cell phone companies were fighting against in order to sell more phones.
anon1921950389
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anon1921950389,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/16/2014 | 12:43:44 PM
Re: This is bad. Very, very bad.
This is not about the govt being able to do this. This is about customers who own the phones being able to do it without having to pay extra to the carriers for the privilege of protecting their property. 
anon2920314289
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anon2920314289,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/16/2014 | 1:34:38 PM
Re: This is bad. Very, very bad.
Do you see anywhere in any of these articles talking about how this enables to government? No, because that isn't the case and they leave it up the conspiricists and crazies like you to bring forth. Quit being ignorant, with these patches or not if someone who really knows tachnology and has to tools to do what they want... they can break into anything and most cetainly do this with or without these new features. 
dwebb608
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dwebb608,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/16/2014 | 3:48:55 PM
Re: This is bad. Very, very bad.
I agree with you.  This is not bad, but good.  Very, very good.  Notice that this voluntary group includes most of the major carriers.

What they're saying is that they will give up monthly fees for this type of service to make it universally available (at least to newer phones).  Reactivation should involve a total wipe and re-initialization, possibly with a restore from a backup securely stored with the carrier.

Enabling the feature by default, as the attorneys mentioned in the article support is also a good idea.
danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Ninja
4/16/2014 | 2:13:58 PM
Re: This is bad. Very, very bad.
Kill switches require carriers to be saddled with another regulation, and that means it is going to cost money for them to enforce. What this is going to mean is that those costs are going to be eventually passed on to the customer.

Is that good? No one likes the high rate of cell phone bills already, but the reality is that most of us depend on them. Kill switches are almost like a form of insurance for the consumer, and a way to reduce smartphone thefts which might ultimately reduce crime.
micjustin33
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micjustin33,
User Rank: Moderator
4/17/2014 | 7:57:06 AM
Re: This is bad. Very, very bad.
I don't know how much kill switch option is useful for smartphones ..
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
4/16/2014 | 10:42:40 AM
Parsing?
What does "preventing unauthorized reactivation "to the extent technologically feasible" mean exactly? Seems like a huge loophole. After all, this is the main thing that in theory will cut down on theft, that someone buying a stolen device won't be able to use it.
anon1921950389
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anon1921950389,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/16/2014 | 12:42:42 PM
Re: Parsing?
The reason that carriers are objecting is very simple - they offer this very service already but as an extra added fee every month. If customers are allowed to do this and to protect their own property in this way, carriers might lose up to $20/month in providing it. Simply put this is large companies more worried about profit than they are about customers.
jagibbons
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jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
4/16/2014 | 2:31:37 PM
Re: Parsing?
Carriers will also lose out on significant phone sales. When a phone is stolen, that person buys a new one, often at the non-subsidized price. That's big revenue for carriers and manufacturers. However, cutting down on demand for stolen phones by locking them will benefit the consumer.
securityaffairs
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securityaffairs,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/16/2014 | 3:43:07 PM
Re: Parsing?
No doubt ... hackers will bypass it ... sincerely I don't like the idea to have a kill switch pre-installed on my mobile. We have also to consider that a similar feature could be abused by a bad actor.

 
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
4/16/2014 | 6:55:17 PM
Re: Parsing?
Security measures like this have limited value. But it's nice that remote wiping will be available for free...you know carriers wanted to charge for that. Professional cell phone thieves can rewrite IMEI numbers so those stolen moble blacklists are not perfect. Really, the answer is making mobile phones so cheap their loss isn't a big deal. If you're carrying $1,000 in the form of a mobile phone, it's going to be desirable to thieves, who know that most security measures can be reversed. 
Tommmmy
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Tommmmy,
User Rank: Strategist
4/16/2014 | 12:45:38 PM
Phone Theft - NOT
The kill switch will NOT be used for cell phone theft (like that's what they care about).  It has a much larger purpose: to prevent American citizens from petitioning their government.  When the big protests begin the government will shut off the phones of the protesters and the media will barely say a thing.  It is all about the mafia staying in charge of the slaves.
anon2920314289
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50%
anon2920314289,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/16/2014 | 1:31:12 PM
Re: Phone Theft - NOT
Go be crazy somewhere else.
Whoopty
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Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
4/16/2014 | 1:06:56 PM
Bypass
I'm sure determined thieves will find a way to bypass this feature. If the phone can be reactivated, then it can be done so by someone other than the manufacturer I'm sure. 

That said, it's good to see some thought is being put into protecting personal privacy - companies and governments haven't done much to value that lately. 
cumulonimbus
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cumulonimbus,
User Rank: Strategist
4/16/2014 | 1:54:55 PM
Smartphone kill switch
There are a number of apps can locate your phone in the event of loss, I have used one and was able to get the GPS coordinates to find it. It takes battery life, so the window is limited. I assume the kill switch would be the same. The idea is inline with the FCC regulation for electonic devices to accept input that is detrimental to operation. I believe there are sound reasons for this.
DC2009
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DC2009,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/16/2014 | 2:58:53 PM
What's next
I don't like it.  What's next - kills switches on your car and house?  Pretty soon the hackers will be hacking into your phone when it's not stolen and killing it.
Cybdiver01
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Cybdiver01,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/16/2014 | 3:59:38 PM
Blackberry Enterprise old feature
Anyone that had a Blackberry on a company network knows that this feature has been available for a long time with BES.  As an admin I've wiped many stolen blackberries by remote and restored new ones the same way.

It's sad nobody likes the Blackberry like before, it's going the way of the Palm Pilot.


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