iPhone theft and smartphone theft remains a major problem in the U.S. and security experts are descending on San Francisco to try and hack into the iPhone 5 running iOS 7 and the Samsung Galaxy S4, at the command of the San Francisco Attorney General.
George Gascon, San Francisco AG, is pushing for a smartphone kill switch that will remotely disable stolen smartphones as a way to deter smartphone theft which accounts for 1 in 3 robberies across the U.S. according to the FCC.
With IOS 7 Apple is pushing a new Activation lock system into place that the company claims will prevent a thief from wiping an iPhone clean and selling it for a profit.
Currently anyone can plug an iPhone into any computer and restore it to new. With iOS 7, the Phone will ask if the computer should be trustred before syncing and if Apple’s free Find My iPhone app is active the iPhone will not allow anyone to wipe it clean. Users will need to unlock the iPhone and enter their iTunes password to turn off Find My iPhone before a phone can be wiped.
This should prevent thieves from wiping a stolen iPhone, even if the user does not use a passcode to lock the device. This method will still let the owner wipe a device and resell it.
Samsung and Absolute security now offer a Lojack for Mobile solution which locks down the Samsung Galaxy S4 and helps a user find a lost or stolen device. The Samsung Galaxy S4 Lojack service is $30 a year and includes a recovery team that can work with local authorities to track down a stolen phone.
While these methods offer better security than consumers are used to in years past, the Attorney Generals in San Francisco and New York don’t feel it goes far enough. In order to test this, the team is inviting security experts to come test the new security solutions. In a joint statement the Attorney Generals said,
“Together, we are working to ensure that the industry embed persistent technology that is effective, ubiquitous and free to consumers in every smartphone introduced to the market by next year”
The Samsung Galaxy S4 Lojack service is available today. Apple promises an iOS 7 release date of fall, and it looks like it could arrive in late September. Other Android users can track a lost or stolen Android with the free Lookout Mobile app.