Apple, Samsung’s latest phones face anti-theft stress test

Apple, Samsung’s latest phones face anti-theft stress test

Apple and Samsung’s latest phones and their anti-theft technology are being tested by state and federal governments on Thursday.

Apple and Samsung’s latest smartphones will face the scrutiny of
state and federal prosecutors in San Francisco on Thursday, who plan to
test the latest in anti-theft security.

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman are testing the latest security features of
Apple’s iPhone 5 and Samsung’s
Galaxy S4 to see whether they can stop thieves who have made off with said devices.

In the iPhone 5’s case, the group will have security experts attempting to thwart Apple’s activation lock feature,
which requires users to have a specific Apple ID username and password
to use the device. For the Galaxy S4, experts are evaluating Lojack for
Android, a $29.99 per year application that can remotely lock the phone, and delete personal data.
“While
we are appreciative of the efforts made by Apple and Samsung to improve
security of the devices they sell, we are not going to take them at
their word,” Schneiderman and Gascón said in a joint statement. “Today
we will assess the solutions they are proposing and see if they stand up
to the tactics commonly employed by thieves.”

To do so, Gascon and Schneiderman say the group will bring in
experts from the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center to try
to bypass the measures, and gain access to the devices as if they were
someone who had stolen the phone.

Representatives from Apple and Samsung did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the testing.
Phone
theft has grown alongside the rising popularity of smartphones, which
are expected to be the majority of all mobile phones shipped this year
for the first time ever, according to a report from IDC last month.
Per a report from the Federal Communications Commission earlier this
year, around 113 smartphones are lost or stolen every minute in the
U.S., and cell phone theft overall makes up 30 to 40 percent of all
robberies.

“Finding technical solutions that will remove the economic value of
stolen smartphones is critical to ending the national epidemic of
violent street crimes commonly known as ‘Apple Picking,'” Schneiderman
and Gascón added.

Even with the efforts by manufacturers, one thing software
security does not protect against is the remaining value for various
parts, which can be removed from phones and resold. Screens for the
iPhone 5, for instance, sell for upwards of $100, while the battery and
camera module can retail for around $30 a piece, making even a
non-functioning device valuable.

The group is expected to release the results of their efforts late-Thursday. 

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