Microsoft details ‘kill switch’ features coming to Windows Phone as Activation Lock

By Alexandra Burlacu | Jun 20, 2014 08:20 AM EDT

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Microsoft is dedicated to making its platform and devices more secure and has now announced new anti-theft features for Windows Phone.

Anti-theft features that act as a "kill switch," such as Apple's Activation Lock in iOS 7, can significantly deter phone theft by rendering the device inoperable for unauthorized users. Apple's "Activation Lock" has reportedly led to a dramatic decline in iPhone thefts in three major cities - New York, London, and San Francisco - and more device makers are expected to implement such mechanisms.

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Back in April, a number of smartphone manufacturers and OS providers pledged to add new security measures to their devices and platforms, in an effort to combat smartphone theft. Participants include heavyweight players such as Microsoft, Google, HTC, and others.

Microsoft has now released more details regarding its version of the Activation Lock, which will bring some neat security features to the Windows Phone platform.

"Over recent months, Microsoft has been working with others in the wireless industry to develop voluntary principles for implementing more robust theft-deterrent technologies in smartphones," Microsoft explains in a new blog post.

"As a result of this work, Microsoft signed on to CTIA's smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment in April, and today we are able to confirm that we will meet these commitments before the CTIA goal of July 2015."

Some of the new features Microsoft plans to add in the Windows Phone 'Find My Phone' include:

  • Remotely wipe personal data from the device
  • Disable the device, rendering it inoperable by unauthorized users, except for the ability to call 911
  • Prevent reactivation or setup of the device without the express permission of the authorized user
  • Reverse the inoperability of the device once the authorized user recovers it, and restore user data stored in the cloud if the smartphone was erased

"The new theft deterrent features will be offered as an update for all phones running Windows Phone 8.0 and newer, though availability is subject to mobile operator and phone manufacturer approval," Microsoft further adds.

The company has yet to provide an exact date for when it will add these new security features to its Windows Phone devices, but said it will offer more details on functionality and availability closer to the official rollout.

 

 

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