Smartphone Kill-Switch to Be Included on Devices Starting July 2015

Users will be able to wipe devices clean and prevent them from being reactivated

Major wireless industry players are committed to adding an extra layer of security to mobile devices, and some of them announced on Tuesday a joint effort to include a “kill-switch” inside new devices starting July next year.

Companies such as Apple, Google, HTC, Huawei, Motorola, Microsoft, Nokia and Samsung have already announced plans to adhere to this functionality, and wireless carriers in the United States has also unveiled support for the measure.

Basically, this means that new handsets released after July 2015 will include remote wipe functionality, which will allow users to erase all data on them, in the event that their devices are lost or stolen.

This security measure should prevent said devices from being reactivated without user’s permission, a recent article on re/code explains. However, should said devices be recovered, users will have the possibility to easily restore data on them.

Apparently, wireless carriers in the United States have already confirmed that they will work towards facilitating the new anti-theft measures.

Some similar security measures have already been installed on various devices, including Apple’s iPhone, in the form of Activation Lock, or Google’s Android Device Manager, though the latter only enables users to locate and wipe handsets, without locking reactivation.

According to California state Sen. Mark Leno, who has already proposed a mandatory kill-switch law, all devices should include the option, not only some of them.

“The wireless industry today has taken an incremental yet inadequate step to address the epidemic of smartphone theft,” Leno said in a statement.

“While I am encouraged by the incremental progress, the wireless industry must commit to the whole solution, not just a piece of it, to protect their customers and make our streets safer.”

According to CTIA President Steve Largent, while the initiative is a great one, companies should also ensure that the kill-switch is created in such a manner that it cannot be exploited by hackers.

“This flexibility provides consumers with access to the best features and apps that fit their unique needs while protecting their smartphones and the valuable information they contain,” he said.

“At the same time, it’s important different technologies are available so that a ‘trap door’ isn’t created that could be exploited by hackers and criminals.”

What remains to be seen is what other mobile phone makers out there will also join this initiative, which should prove, in the end, a great thing for end users. Hopefully, it won’t be long before more wireless industry companies announce support for it, so stay tuned.

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