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Qualcomm: Snapdragon 810 Will Be Their First SafeSwitch (Kill Switch) Protected Processor

January 9, 2015 - Written By John Anon

There are certain phrases that have come to prominence over the last year. ‘Cybersecurity’ is one of them. As is ‘Cyberterrorism’. Both are similar in terms of their associations, but from the opposite ends. In short, Cybersecurity is needed to protect yourself from Cyberterrorists or (to throw another one at you) ‘Cybercriminals’. The one underlying feature which seems to unite these phrases, is fear. Security, terrorists, criminals, all buzzwords to make sure you pay attention to the many ways in which your identity, data, information can all be taken. Well, no need to fear too much as the powers-that-be invented another buzz phrase to combat most of the above, ‘Kill Switch’.

Yep, kill switches have become big business in the last twelve months. Being able to offer users a way to effectively kill a device by turning off its ability to function and therefore protecting your data, information and identify. Since kill switches started being bantered around, we have suddenly seen everyone (and their dog) announcing the inclusion of similar features in their devices, products and services. Probably the most well known was when it was announced that Android 5.0 (Lollipop) would come with a built-in kill switch. As mentioned though, Google and Android were not alone. An interesting announcement came back in September of 2014 when Qualcomm announced that their processors could come with kill switches built-in. In contrast to most other kill switch announcements, this one was most interesting as the kill switch would be hardwired into the chip. This tech, which was being dubbed ‘SafeSwitch’ would effectively allow users to remotely disable and wipe devices if lost and stolen. In the event that they were only temporarily lost or stolen, the tech would also allow for re-enabling of the devices once found.

One of the advantages of Qualcomm’s hardwired approach is that it disables lost or stolen phones from being able to be refreshed or flashed with alternative software, as the security features are verified at the processor (and not software) level. Well, if you were interested in the tech when it was first reported then it now seems we have some clearer details on the future of SafeSwitch. Qualcomm has this week announced that the technology will become active on their newest Snapdragon processor, the 810. This means the Snapdragon 810 will be the first processor to come with SafeSwitch as standard. The announcement (source link below) did not provide any details on what other future Qualcomm processors will contain the technology. That said, with the recent law change in the US requiring all new devices being sold to come with a built-in kill switch, highly suggests that Qualcomm will look to include this on most (if not all) of their future processors. Check out the video for a bit more info on what to expect from SafeSwitch. What do you think of kill switches? Good for business? Or overkill?