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Cell Phone Forensics Expert Witness:
Apple Has a Kill Command, Soon Google & Microsoft Will!

Electronic Forensics / Cell Phone Forensics Expert Articles

In our March 2014 article “California law would require ‘Destroy’ function in Cell Phones” we examined the pressure California is putting on cell phone manufacturers to integrate a “Kill” function into  their cell phone operating systems (OS). It appears that the pressure from State and Federal law enforcement officials is working on Google and Microsoft.

iphone-4s-devices

Apple iPhone

 

The anti-theft feature is expected to drastically reduce the number of stolen cell phones worldwide. As an example, officials tout the fact there was a dramatic drop in theft of Apple iPhones and iPads after the September 2013 introduction of iOS 7. iOS 7 had as part of its feature set the ability to remotely lock a cell phone. In addition, the software allows the user to completely delete the data on the phone rendering it completely useless.

 

According to reports, iPhone theft in New York dropped 19 percent between January and May of 2014. However, during that same period, thefts of Samsung Android devices which do not have a Kill feature built into the OS, rose by over 40 percent. On the west coast, in San Francisco, theft of iPhones were 38 percent lower between October of 2013 and March of 2014 than they were between April 2013 and September of 2013. In London, thefts of iPhones were down by over 24 percent for the same October to March period.

 

However, law enforcement reports robberies of Samsung Android devices has continued to increase.

 

While the Kill feature is not yet a standard part of all Android devices, Verizon introduced a Kill feature in April of 2014.

 

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has been leading the charge to get smartphone manufacturers and cell phone carriers to include Kill switches in their products as a way to curb phone theft.

 

“The commitments of Google and Microsoft are giant steps toward consumer safety and the statistics released today illustrate the stunning effectiveness of Kill switches,” said Attorney General EricSchneiderman on June 19th, 2014. “In just one year, the Secure Our Smartphones Initiative has made tremendous strides towards curtailing the alarming trend of violent smartphone theft. We will continue the fight to ensure that companies put consumers’ safety first and work toward ending the epidemic of smartphone theft. ”

 

The Secure Our Smartphones (“S.O.S.”) Initiative was created by an international partnership of law-enforcement agencies, elected officials and consumer advocates to decrease the number of violent cell phone related crimes.

 

The Initiative was well received by Apple but other OS vendors were not as easily swayed. Google and Microsoft took almost a year to get on board. Perhaps State and Federal law makers are to credit for these companies’ participation. Several states and the federal government have bills making their way to law requiring a Kill function. The bills which have been introduced demand a function that would enable a phone owner to remotely delete and disable a phone if stolen. The “destroy” function, at this point, may be disabled by the phone’s owner if desired. Many of the bills call for the Kill function to be on by default.

 

Schneiderman believes if phones become worthless shortly after being stolen theft would drop dramatically. It is worth pointing out,however, crime is a complex matter and merely having a Kill function does not cover all of the factors involved.

 

Our team at Evidence Solutions, Inc. highly recommends you install software that allows you to track and/or Kill your smartphone. Many different products are available on the market for Microsoft and Android devices. Some are free while others cost a few dollars. The peace of mind knowing you can secure all of your data, however, is priceless.

 

By Scott Greene

Evidence Solutions, Inc.

Complex Electronic Evidence in PLAIN English.

Call us today with your Digital Evidence Questions: 866-795-7166 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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Complex Electronic Evidence in PLAIN English.

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