Will Apple’s ‘kill switch’ tamp down iPhone thefts?

“The Activation Lock Apple added to iOS 7’s ‘Find My Phone’ feature functions as a kill switch; once you enable it, your phone is off-limits to anybody without your iCloud password, even if they wipe and reset the phone,” Rob Pegoraro reports for USA Today. “Its resale value should fall to zero.”

“And with 87% of iOS devices running that version of Apple’s mobile operating system, the odds of Activation Lock securing an iDevice are high,” Pegoraro reports. “So why do the numbers of iPhone thefts remain so high?”

“It’s so easy to snatch a phone that thieves don’t mind the chance that they’ll be stuck with a bricked device,” Pegoraro reports. “There’s still a decent chance that a stolen iPhone won’t run iOS 7 or won’t have Find My Phone enabled… An inoperative iPhone can still retain some resale value, even if only for parts.”

“But having Activation Lock enabled — and promptly reporting a stolen iPhone to your wireless carrier and the police — can still help. Doing nothing does not,” Pegoraro reports. “Android users don’t have an equivalent of Apple’s kill-switch defense, aside from a handful of Samsung phones that can run Absolute Software’s LoJack app [which costs US$39.99 per year].”

Read more in the full article here.

19 Comments

    1. We’re not talking about the brightest of humans. When an addict is desperate for money, they’re not thinking very hard about brands of phones or kill switches. Grab what looks sellable to the local fence.

  1. By “kill switch” does he mean “Lost Mode” or just the password screen?

    My iPhone already has tracking turned on and automatically requires a password after 5 minutes. Does the “Lost Mode” offer any extra security against evildoers other than the display screen and notifying me by mail?
    (not a complaint, I love the idea, just a question)

    1. Yes, it gives you the ability to wipe your phone remotely, track it down to within so many feet, and to have it make a sound so you can locate it.

  2. Why should a thief care; he’ll sell it on not worrying about whether the idiot buying it can use it or not, or else it’ll get broken up for spares.

    1. Nope, not yet. The reason why it hasn’t been hacked is that it’s a system that matches the UUID (baked into hardware) with Apple’s centralized activation server. So any iPhone that’s protected can’t be re-activated anywhere in the world on any carrier. This is much different from unlocking a phone and connecting it to a different carrier.

      What’s really needed is that this becomes an opt-out instead of opt-in system (or possibly even mandatory). Currently, so many iPhones are not protected that any thief realizes that there’s a good chance the phone won’t be protected.

      Real low-life thieves may still steal iPhones to break them down and sell for parts, but increasing the numbers of protected iPhones is what’s really needed to make a dent in thefts.

  3. Why do MDN the so called Apple advocates use this to advertise Android software with a paid-per-click link? I think it’s time we read our news some else right? They are shitting us for hits. Hit whore MDN. MDN SUCKS

    1. Let me try to answer that.

      MDN, much like any other business, is a web based business. Its owner provides a service to MDN readers, and it is a free service. Obviously, MDN has expenses, and the owner, who seems to be doing this full-time, needs to feed himself (and possibly a family). In order to cover the expenses and generate some positive cash flow, the owner had signed up with online advertising services that deliver ads to the site visitors.

      Now these add services are somewhat smarter than in the old days; they target each user based on various criteria (geographic location, for examle) and display ads that may be relevant to the user. The services still have a long way to go, though; I have often seen ads for MS Windows software, Android phones and similar on MDN. It doesn’t take intelligent ad software to figure out that such ad placement on MDN is a complete waste of advertising budget. I can’t think of a single MDN user clicking through a link for some Android app, or Norton Antivirus for Windows…

      If ads are to be placed on MDN, though, they may well be for the competition: based on the immutable laws of schadenfreude, nothing makes us (MDN visitors) smile better than the knowledge that Samsung, Google, Microsoft and others from the other camp are wasting their advertising budget on us, Apple users.

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