Kill Switches to Turn your Stolen Phone into a Paperweight

No matter how many anti-virus and security apps you keep in your smartphone to keep you and your data safe from online theft or viruses, there is one thing that phone owners have never been able to do; keep their smartphones from getting stolen. There have been a number of anti-theft applications that claim to be able to wipe your phone data completely but these apps are not impossible to deceive and to simply uninstall before it’s too late for the thief. And thus, no real efforts had been made to fight this ever-growing threat off. That is, until Apple decided to release yet another feature that would change the way smartphone security works; the Activation Lock.
Released last September, the Activation Lock by Apple was a kill switch built into iOS 7 that would render a phone completely useless in case of theft. This feature led to a significant drop in iPhone thefts, falling 17 percent in New York City within the first five months of this release. At the same time, Samsung devices were stolen 51 percent more than the last year. Apple devices were also found to be stolen lesser in San Francisco and London, the thefts dropping 38 and 24 percent respectively.
The reason behind the drop in numbers is simple; the ability to wipe out a phone completely makes stealing a phone less attractive or even redundant for thieves. This is the first time that something has caused hope for a potential end of phone theft, which is why both Google and Microsoft are right behind Apple in considering to add similar ‘kill switches’ to their devices.
While Google still hasn’t released details of its own kill switch, Microsoft states that their kill switch would be offered to all phones running Windows Phone 8.0 and higher as an update, and other than giving users the ability to:
• erase all personal data from their phone remotely
• ‘brick’ or render their phone completely useless except for calling 911
• prevent anyone other than the user to reactivate the phone
• let the user recover the phone data if the phone is found
These features go one step beyond Apple’s Activation Lock because in case the phone is recovered by the owner, they might be able to use their phones again rather than losing their devices forever.
The debate now is whether this feature should be built into the OS as something that is just there or should users be given the choice to activate it or not, like iOS at present. Giving the user a choice to activate this security feature or not, while giving smartphone users a sense of control over their devices, will also lead to a drop in smartphone theft that is not so significant because the thief will think of it as having a 50-50 chance at stealing a usable phone. Whereas if this feature is made a part of the default settings, it will be at every user’s fingertips to simply wipe their phones completely or render them useless which will obviously make phones less attractive to the thieves.
But no matter which approach is taken, we can be sure of one thing: Apple has yet again released a groundbreaking, albeit simple, feature that can significantly reduce the number of phones that are stolen in today’s world and all three major operating systems will tend to be much more safe and secure than ever before, putting the security of their users ahead of anything else.
There are other software developers in this sphere. Though being smaller ones in terms of market shares, they are still the professionals of the rank not lower than that of Apple, and offer security-assuring mobile applications similar to the ones described above. For instance, mSpy application has the features of remote locking/blocking the phone in case of theft or loss. And the price is a friendly one at that. Plus, this remarkable iPhone monitoring app has lots of other awesome features. Plus, it brings parenting to another level.

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