By Jessica Oaks
Americans spend $2.6 billion each year to replace stolen smartphones, not including the cost of handset insurance. The consequences of losing these high-value devices are dreaded and very much unwanted. In response to mobile-device theft, kill-switch technology is gaining momentum as a viable solution. A 'kill switch' allows smart device owners to lock and/or wipe their phones remotely once taken from possession. Aside from consumers, mobile kill switches also impact businesses positively, and, moreover, the planet as a whole is better off with this technological implementation.
Businesses, especially large corporations, often utilize the latest technology around. This means providing employees with smartphones to enable increased work production and mobility via emails, office apps, shared documents and Internet connectivity. Often times, syncing data happens automatically across any company-owned device with network connection intact. Synced technology has been a game-changer in terms of optimizing operational efficiencies. However, it does make connected devices susceptible to abuse should a non-authorized party get ahold of said gadgets. If even one employee loses their phone to an “Apple picker,” aka a smart phone robber, aside from the monetary loss, private company information is now in the hands of someone who could potentially leverage it to destroy the business and, in the bigger picture, impact potential economic flow and overall safe well-being around the world.
An extreme but extremely possible situation that could take place is, for example, a smartphone thief who has hacking capabilities uses their sticky fingers to gain access into an establishment’s private stock information and bank accounts: It could pose a detrimental trickle-down effect, and it’s something not outside the realm of affecting the rest of the world, as many businesses are connected to other businesses and industries. Leveraging insider intelligence and spreading it in a viral manner to powerful parties is all it takes to take down a massive amount of people.
Luckily, technology is being rapidly developed by innovators like Qualcomm to equip mobile devices with kill-switch capabilities. On top of anti-theft software being installed by default, the tech giant is producing a kill switch-equipped, Snapdragon processing chip that will lie within the hardware to add an extra level of security. With the integration of this sort of automatic kill switch, companies will have the ability to protect proprietary information by remotely 'killing' stolen devices and/or wiping data within company phones, possibly saving the economic lifeline of business.
Apart from fiscal safety, a greener planet could result with a subsequent decrease in mobile device theft. So goes the saying, a little bit goes a long way – think, if technology manufacturers didn’t have to account for the large number of replacement devices that needed to be produced, its carbon footprint would get smaller in that aspect. Fewer phones would need to be made, and phone manufacturers might actually start building phones to be even more efficient and environmentally suitable in order to last longer. Furthermore, the previously mentioned $2.6 billion spent on replacing phones could go toward better causes – maybe even causes concerning improvement of the human race and the planet. Now, all these thoughts may be far-fetched, but they are not impossible. And the kill switch opens the door of possibility for these altruistic visions.
A world with protected businesses and deterred hackers could mean a world with less theft and a better-run planet. Starting in July, California will ignite the change with its bold, statewide kill-switch law that calls for all smartphones to be produced with a default mobile kill switch. This huge step is about to spike a revolution in the mobile device industry, it just may create a more peaceful and sound environment for all.
Image credit: Flickr/Adam Fagen
Jessica Oaks is a freelance journalist who loves to cover technology news and the ways that technology makes life easier. She also blogs at FreshlyTechy.com. Check her out on Twitter @TechyJessy.