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Smartphones have their own mobile operating system. The first smartphone to find a widespread market was the Blackberry, but that quickly lost ground after Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007. That was followed by smartphones powered by Google’s Android mobile operating system.

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Security experts to test phone anti-theft locks

Lost and stolen cellphones cost consumers more than US$30 billion last year, increasing pressure on manufacturers to increase security

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 July, 2013, 1:39pm
UPDATED : Friday, 19 July, 2013, 1:40pm
 

The top prosecutors in San Francisco and New York say they are bringing in state and federal security experts to test the newest anti-theft features designed to thwart the surge of stolen smartphones nationwide.

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that the security experts will be in San Francisco to test Apple’s iPhone 5 with its activation lock and Samsung’s Galaxy S4 with Lojack for Android.

Gascon said the experts will treat the phones as if they were stolen and try circumventing its anti-theft features to draw their own conclusions on its effectiveness.

“We are not going to take them at their word,” the prosecutors said in a joint statement Thursday. “Today we will assess the solutions they are proposing and see if they stand up to the tactics commonly employed by thieves.”

Last month, Gascon and Schneiderman met in New York City with representatives from Apple, Samsung Electronics, Google and Microsoft as part of their “Secure our Smartphones” initiative urging them to create a “kill switch” to render stolen smartphones inoperable.

The prosecutors said they “asked the companies to commit to develop effective solutions to this national crime wave and install them on all new products within one year.”

Almost 1 in 3 robberies nationwide involves the theft of a mobile phone, according to the Federal Communications Commission, which is coordinating the formation this fall of a national database system to track cellphones reported stolen.

“Together, we are working to ensure that the industry imbed persistent technology that is effective, ubiquitous and free to consumers in every smartphone introduced to the market by next year,” the prosecutors said.

Nearly 175 million cellphones — mostly smartphones — have been sold in the US in the past year and account for US$69 billion (HK$535.3 billion) in sales, according to IDC, a Massachusetts-based research firm.

Lost and stolen cellphones cost consumers more than US$30 billion last year, according to a study cited by Schneiderman in June. In New York, police have coined the term “Apple-picking” to describe thefts of the popular iPhone and other mobile products like iPads.

Phone thefts comprise 40 per cent of all robberies in New York City, authorities said. In San Francisco, half the robberies were phone-related last year.

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