IT | Security

The Kill Switch and iCrime

By: Absolute Team | 7/15/2013

Cult of Mac recently ran an article on "Why iOS 7’s Kill Switch Won’t Take A Bite Out Of iCrime" that looks at the idea of a kill switch in general for mobile devices, as well as the Activation Lock coming soon to iOS 7. The article cites many industry experts who have concerns about both the kill switch and Apple's own implementation.

Tom Kemp, CEO of Centrify, believes that an effective 'kill switch' would need to be wired to carrier networks so carriers can disable devices with known stolen IMEIs, but is uncomfortable giving "that type of power" to the carrier.

David Anderson of ProtectYourBubble believes that thieves will continue to steal phones and attempt to sell them to unsuspecting consumers, even if the kill switch has been activated.

Ken Westin of GadgetTrak believes hackers will "find a way around the kill switch," since it is software based. It may be as simple as jailbreaking the phone, he suggests.

The Cult of Mac article suggests that partnerships with authorities would be a more ideal solution than allowing customers to pursue their stolen iPhones. Ward Clapham of Absolute Software notes that the kill switch could encourage more people to attempt to recovery their own devices:

"Deactivating a device with Activation Lock so that an unauthorized user is unable to use it or sell it can have a positive impact on deterring theft. However, the value of this capability is limited and could lead to encouragement of owners trying to recover devices from thieves themselves. Self-recovery can be dangerous – even fatal. The best case scenario is for the user to rely on trained professionals to work with law enforcement to recover the device and pursue any criminal charges that may result."

As the only device recovery option on the market with a dedicated Theft Recovery Team, Absolute Software is uniquely positioned to work alongside law enforcement to recover devices and hold criminals accountable for these thefts. As we've outlined in our Cyber Vigilante Justice whitepaper, the use of tracking services by consumers without law enforcement support leads to dangerous situations.

In our earlier posts, we have suggested that we all need to go beyond the kill switch to reduce mobile theft; a comprehensive approach to mitigating mobile theft would include not only the kill switch, but also education and support for law enforcement in recovering devices, arresting and persecuting those responsible for these crimes. Learn more about our upcoming partnership with Samsung to provide mobile theft protection here.