Android So Much Of An iPhone Wannabe That It, Too, Has A Kill Switch

from the remote-disabling dept

There was plenty of attention a few months back when it was revealed (first by a hacker, then confirmed by Apple) that the iPhone contained a kill switch that could remotely disable any application. Nancy Gohring, over at IDG, has gone through the terms of service for the first Google Android-based phone and noted that it appears to have a remote kill switch as well, though at least it's upfront about it. You can understand why mobile operators might want this (for example, to stop a bandwidth hogging app), but it's still rather troubling that an app that you thought you had placed on your own device might be remotely deleted one day. If we've been able to deal with rogue and runaway apps on PCs for all these years, you would think that mobile operators would be able to deal with it as well.

Filed Under: android, kill switch
Companies: google

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  1. icon
    TX CHL Instructor (profile), 17 Oct 2008 @ 5:40am

    An interview with a mobile telco

    I recently interviewed with a mobile telco for a programming job (didn't get the job, which may have turned out to be the best possible outcome), and in the discussion, the manager showed me some real-time data from his network. In the data stream that flowed by, he spotted something that caused him to pause the display.

    "A hacker trying to break into the network..." He then punched a few keys, and suspended the account. He then explained that the system normally detects that sort of intrusion attempt and shuts it down automatically, but this one apparently learned what the pinging threshold was, and was staying just under it. The would-be hacker appeared to be trying to access a feature for which he had not paid. He would have been caught in a few minutes anyway, but the manager just happened to see it first.

    Now, supposed we had a few tens of thousands of zombied smartphones out there...

    I think I can see where a remote killswitch might be something a cell network would want. The alternative would be to suspend all of those accounts, and render the phones useless except for 911 calls. Much less impact on the users, much less burden on customer service, much better protection of the network.
    -- Nothing deters violent crime as effectively as the possibility that your intended victim might shoot you. Nothing.

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