back to article Now not even muggers want your iPhone

Bigwigs in London, New York City and San Francisco are well happy with the remote-triggered kill switches added to smartphones. And the three-city Save our Smartphones (SOS) coalition says mobe thefts are on the decrease. We're told: In San Francisco, overall smartphone thefts have dropped 27 per cent, and iPhone crime is …

  1. Khaptain Silver badge

    Other domains

    Surprising that this kind of technology has not moved into other domains, vehicles, laptops, high end cameras etc

    1. gurugeorge

      Re: Other domains

      Actually, this requires secure system. Apples is almost bullet-proof. I'm security engineer, and can usually find a backdoor into most things if I need to. But even I couldn't easily unlock an icloud locked iphone, nor can the Apple Genius Bar! I spent hours on it, without getting anywhere. On the contrary Samsung & windows 'kill switches' are a joke and can be accessed in minutes.

    2. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: Other domains

      It's available with every Apple laptop. Obviously there is hard disk encryption which prevents you from stealing data, but doesn't stop you from re-installing the OS and using the computer. For that you can use a firmware password, which means the Mac cannot be used at all without that password. Be careful: If you set a firmware password and forget it, that Mac isn't going to run ever again.

  2. Ian 62

    It'll be the headphones they mug you for now

    Those big over ear cans you see them wearing, £160+ especially if they're a silly colour.

    "Nah mate, keep the phone, I said headphones!"

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well that's all fine and dandy

    Until the perps figure out that murdering the victim at the same time will probably prevent the kill switch being thrown ;-)

    1. Paw Bokenfohr

      Re: Well that's all fine and dandy

      That's not really how it works, at least with iPhones (I don't know about Windows Phone or the Galaxy).

      There's a remote wipe option (along with "find my iPhone") which yes, killing you would prevent you using, but the activation lock is enabled all the time and prevents you from resetting the iPhone (or iPad) to defaults (thus removing passcodes etc) without inputting the Apple account password of the owner.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Until the perps figure out that murdering the victim at the same time

      Yeah, those perps! Once they've stolen a phone human life becomes worthless....

  4. lee harvey osmond

    urrr... they will still steal your device

    Muggers will still steal your device, but will probably throw it away a short while after. Their aim in doing this is [1] to prevent you from using your device to make a timely report to the police that you have been robbed and [2] to prevent you from using your device to take a picture of the mugger to show to the police, should they ever turn up.

    It is also true that muggers are not always possessed with current IT knowledge or a decent set of thinking skills, will not know about the kill switch, will not know which devices or operating system revisions feature it, will not know how to identify the device or operating system revision at which they are looking, and generally won't care either.

    1. Charles 9

      Re: urrr... they will still steal your device

      So what happened to Faraday bags? How can a kill code kill what it cannot detect. And by the time it's exposed again, it'll probably be modified to not accept it.

      1. T L

        Re: urrr... they will still steal your device

        Yeah, because your average punk knows all about "Faraday bags". (Good grief!)

        You do know you're supposed to think before you speak/write, right? :-)

        1. h4rm0ny

          Re: urrr... they will still steal your device

          >>"Yeah, because your average punk knows all about "Faraday bags". (Good grief!)"

          Common misconception that the average street criminal is stupid or doesn't learn this stuff quickly. The last person I knew who stole things semi-regularly also used Tails for their OS because they'd heard it was good for stopping the police spying on you. You'd be surprised - plenty of people's lives go off the tracks for reasons other than not being smart.

          Generally speaking someone who goes about stealing phones will have a lot better and more current knowledge about the security systems of phones than most people who own them. They may not know what a Faraday Cage is or how it works, but being told that putting a phone inside one of those bags you get with computer bits stops the kill switch being activated is exactly the sort of trick that gets passed around very quickly.

          Not that I'm arguing these kill switches aren't very effective - they clearly are. I'm just pointing out that people can be a lot more informed than you think.

          1. gerryg


            I understand it is a DWP commonplace that if you want to know how the benefits system really works don't ask a civil servant, ask a scrote.

            (Thoough, is there anyone who doesn't know how to "operate" when it's relevant to them? tax, TV licence, expenses claims, etc?

          2. Backroom Boy

            Re: urrr... they will still steal your device

            Agree with this. Street Robbers know what they want; iPHONEs a few years ago was the #1 stolen item in London. Potential victims using anything else were often ignored. Now thefts are down by over 40% year on year. I would suggest this is mainly down to the killswitch. But Apple might have also changed their replacemnt policies as well.

      2. gnasher729 Silver badge

        Re: urrr... they will still steal your device

        Simples. The phone locks itself after a time that the user sets, or when it is turned off, and then you can't use it anymore. If you try to wipe the phone, you can wipe it no problem, but if you want to use it it will ask for the AppleID and password of the legitimate user. There is no "kill" code sent to the phone, ever.

    2. paulf

      Re: urrr... they will still steal your device

      The muggers may not know at first, but they'll soon find out when they try to punt on the remote kill equipped handsets to the dealer, gang boss, or international criminal mastermind they work for and are told it's [mostly] worthless.

    3. Lallabalalla

      Re: urrr... they will still steal your device

      Urrr... apparently at least 25% WON'T steal your device, that's what this article is actually about.

    4. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: urrr... they will still steal your device

      @lee harvey osmond

      Yes, yes, and to elaborate: Street level thieves move their goods quickly. They will most likely not be interested in the contents. They are looking for fast turn over, fast cash in hand. Usually to buy drugs, but sometimes to buy weapons to steal more stuff more easily to make money to buy drugs. When they have drugs they can get women to "work" for them. At some point, they make a million selling record too.

      Of course, this is only if they have a cogent business model.

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