The Smartphone Kill Switch Is Not Fool Proof

Android Device Manager

California is the first state in the U.S. to require all cell phones have a kill switch enabled in case the phone is lost or stolen. The FCC has called on carriers to enable this across the country to protect everyone’s phone but some thieves are not discouraged by this.  As with any new technology to prevent theft they have already figured out a way around the kill switch. Just like anything else you are going to have your opportunist thief and then your professional thief.  The opportunist doesn’t go out looking to steal someone’s phone but if the situation presents itself then they will take it. The kill switch is what will discourage these people from taking your phone. It allows you to go online and report your phone lost, you can lock your device and display a message to the thief, you could even offer a reward for the return of your phone. All of this can be done remotely and without the thief seeing your personal information. What good is the phone you cannot call anyone on, take pictures with, or go onto Facebook with. It is just a high tech expensive paper weight. If the FCC gets their way then this will be a reality for all phones in the future. Apple and Google already have this technology on their phones all you have to do is know how to activate it.

This is where the professional thief comes into play and one that doesn’t worry about your phone’s ability to be locked remotely. All of this technology works if the owner can get online and lock their device. Professional thieves know that everyday Americans do not walk around with a second device and it will take them some time to enable the remote lock, and for all of this to work the stolen device needs to be connected to the internet.  There is no special beam coming from a set of Android satellites in outer space to lock the phone. Everything today relies on the internet, so the smart professional thieves will remove the sim card or enable airplane mode and there you go, they have access to all of your stuff and you can’t remotely do anything about it.

Despite some thieves having a way around the kill switch tech, this law in California still works. San Francisco saw a 38% drop in robberies in the 6 months after Apple released this technology, so it is working, and working across the country for devices that have this feature, but it will not stop crime. Applaud Google for seeing this problem and creating Device Manager to save our information in case your phone ends up in someone else’s hands.