San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón says the smartphone theft deterrent systems Apple and Samsung have demonstrated are “clear improvements” in the effort to thwart device theft.
Last week, Gascón and New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced efforts to test the two company’s new security technologies to “see if they stand up to the tactics commonly employed by thieves” in an program that partnered with experts from the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center.
Gascón noted that neither Microsoft’s Windows Phone, nor Google’s Android offered similar technology to demonstrate on their mobile platforms.
The DA declined to offer details on how the technologies offered by Apple and Samsung work, saying they are not finalized. Apple’s “Activation Lock” remains under NDA as part of iOS 7, and Samsung contracts with a third-party, (LoJack), for its security solution.
Apple’s Activation Lock feature embeds the users’ iCloud account information into the device’s low level firmware, so even if the device is wiped, it will refuse to “activate” until the account and password are entered. Activation Lock is a part of Apple’s upcoming iOS 7, currently in beta.
Samsung has partnered with third party developer Absolute Software to deliver a “LoJack” branded solution. This is currently available for one model of its smartphone line, the Galaxy S4.
The LoJack app is tied into the device’s firmware by Samsung, and allows users to remotely lock, wipe, and locate a missing device, and the company says it will “work with law enforcement globally to get the device back.”
The LoJack service is supplied with a $29.99 annual subscription fee. Apple’s Activation Lock will be free to iOS 7 users.