Thursday, April 17, 2014

"Kill switch" should make cell phones more secure in practice; strong password protection of phones works in conjunction with 2-step verification sites

Media reports indicate that a “Kill Switch” will be engineered into all mobile phones sold in the United States after summer of 2015. The major players in the detail include Apple, Samsung, Google and Microsoft.  Police departments want it, to reduce the incentive for thieves to snatch cell phones on the streets and in subways, with some encounters becoming increasingly violent.

George Gascon, from San Francisco, reports previous industry resistance based on loss of profits from theft insurance and replacement phones.  But cell phone thefts for the past twelve months in the US are up by almost 1 million. 

Moreover, some observers, such as Melissa Melton in “Activist Post” note that the feature would give law enforcement or governments to disable phones of people they just don’t like. Her post is here.  In the meantime, police and security experts advise owners to password protect their phones, even with strong passwords, although that advice wouldn’t seem related directly to Heartbleed. 
Password protection of hardware would be relevant to the issue of putting 2-step verification accounts, especially Google, on your smart phone. 

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