How the Mobile Kill Switch is Saving Millions

Published On March 25, 2015 | Mobile

An estimated 3.1 million mobile devices were stolen in the United States in 2013 – nearly double the number of that in 2012. In fact, one in three thefts in America now involve a smartphone. The significant rise in this 21st Century crime is beginning to be countered by mobile kill switch technology.

A mobile kill switch, in a nutshell, allows owners to remotely “kill” a lost/stolen device and render it useless to thieves. Tech manufacturers have begun building their products with this safeguard intact and it is proving to save consumers millions.

A kill switch will work to deter potential criminals from even thinking of stealing a phone in the first place. Once a phone is lost and/or stolen, the person who owns it is the only one authorized to call his/her network provider or use a website to “kill” signal to the device, plus there is also the option to wipe data that lies within, essentially making the phone as useful as a brick to its new owner.

California will kick off this anti-theft implementation – the state has mandated a law, effective July 1, 2015, that calls for all smartphones to come equipped with a default mobile kill switch. Technology innovators have already been preparing their gadgets to meet the requirements so that the kill switch can deem successful.

Qualcomm, a leader in technological innovation, is integrating kill-switch capability in its Snapdragon processor chips that run a majority of top mobile devices in the market. With strong protection embedded into device hardware, an extra level of security is added. Additionally, industry giant Apple has made strides in reducing mobile device-related crime with its latest version of a kill switch. The iOS 8 Activation Lock complies with a main guideline of the California statute to make the kill switch a default and it is proving effective.

According to a Reuters’ report, since the Activation Lock’s emergence, there has been a drastic decrease in thefts in the major cities of New York (-25%), San Francisco (-40%) and London (-50%). The results of initial kill-switch application are indicative of the huge potential it could have if fully embraced by the rest of the nation and world.

Americans spend approximately $3.4 billion a year replacing lost/stolen phones and paying for insurance to cover them. And as society becomes more reliant on digital everything, this amount will only go up if a universal kill-switch order is not in place. From the cost of replacement and the exponential value of personal account and identity information housed within a gadget, to the irreplaceable amount of photos and videos taken on a phone, when someone loses a mobile device there is a loss of both monetary and sentimental worth along with a decrease in safety.

What the mobile kill switch will do is save consumers millions, if not billions, collectively. A global regulation could soon cause a technological revolution and discourage overall mobile device theft, flipping sky-high crime rates upside down.

– By Tim Alan

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