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Can a Cell Phone Kill Switch Deter Theft?

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Can a Cell Phone Kill Switch Deter Theft?

The smartphone has become an essential accessory for most of us today. You probably wouldn’t dream of going out without it and some people can barely tolerate not having their phone to hand 24/7. But as smartphone ownership goes up and up so does smartphone theft. A while back, half of all robberies reported in San Francisco were about smartphone theft. Various security measures have been developed to deal with this problem, including the use of a kill switch for remote locking of your device.

What is a Kill Switch?

If your smartphone is stolen then it can be a financial blow, because a good phone can be expensive. As important is the personal data that can be harvested from a cellphone if it falls into the wrong hands. A smartphone kill switch permanently and instantly disables the device. The owner notifies the service provider or carrier and they can use remote locking to disconnect the device. It’s then more or less useless and can’t easily be resold by criminals. Because this renders a phone about as functional as a brick it’s known as ‘bricking’.

Phone Theft Databases

Other measures have also been put in place, including a database that keeps track of phones and can take steps if a cellphone is stolen. Dozens of countries and wireless companies signed up to this database when it was first set up by GSMA, a UK-based wireless trade group. A database of stolen smartphones was a step forward but a kill switch is an intermediate measure that provides the victim with peace of mind, whether the thief has been caught and prosecuted or not.

Best Practices for Smartphone Users

As anyone who’s experienced smartphone theft (or even just lost or misplaced their phone) knows, being without your pocket computer is a nuisance at best, but it can be a disaster. Smartphones aren’t just fun toys. They contain vital information about their owners and can lead to identity theft and data breaches. Fortunately, there are some best practices to adopt in case your cellphone goes missing.

One simple thing you can do is protect your contacts list. You can use coded entries nstead of their full names. This is especially important with a phone that is used for work purposes, since there are laws that may oblige you to inform clients that their information has been put at risk. This is clearly embarrassing and bad for the reputation of any business. Strong passwords across the accounts on your phone and using encrypted communications also make life more difficult for thieves and cybercriminals.

What to do if Your Smartphone is Stolen

The first thing you need to do if your phone is stolen is to contact your carrier. If they have a kill switch then they can lock down your phone for you. Report the theft to the authorities. You’ll then need to get onto some other device and change the passwords on all your online accounts so that they can’t be accessed by hackers.

At Quikteks we specialize in network security but we’re just as concerned with keeping your mobile devices secure in case they’re stolen. To find out more about security and how you can use remote locking with your mobile device, give us a call at (973) 882-4644.

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Quikteks is the leading Managed Service Provider (MSP) based in Fairfield, NJ serving small and medium sized businesses in the NJ/NY area. From technical help desk support to network security, Quikteks prevents IT issues, "techaches" and costly downtime, so businesses can accelerate their success.

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