TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: 'Screaming' Cell Phones to Cut Down Theft

'Screaming' Cell Phones to Cut Down Theft

Marc Jones (
Mon, 02 Oct 2006 11:58:11 -0500

By Marc Jones

A UK firm is hoping a cell phones security system it has developed which
sets off a high pitch scream, permanently locks the handset and wipes
all data if stolen, will halt the spiraling rise in phone theft.

The Remote XT technology, designed to make phones unusable, and
therefore worthless if they are stolen, works by installing software
onto the operating system of the phone which is then activated via a
call to a call center once users realize their phone has been snatched
or lost.

The phone is then remotely disabled, all the data held on the device
is wiped and a high pitched screech is triggered.

"It makes a loud squealing noise which is enough to distract a
restaurant if it went off and it completely locks the phone," Remote
XT Managing Director, Mark Whiteman told Reuters.

"We also then set a small bomb off, if you like, that completely wipes
the data ... if it has genuinely been stolen then it renders the phone
useless to the thief," he added.

The screaming noise can be stopped by taking out the phone's battery
but starts again as soon as it is put back in, while replacing the SIM
card has no effect.

The system also automatically backs up data held on a device once a
day, meaning users can re-load their information onto a replacement

According to the latest UK government statistics, mobile phone theft
has risen 190 per cent in recent years, with one third of all UK
robberies now solely involving mobile phones.

Insurer Halifax estimates a mobile handset is stolen every 12 seconds
in Britain costing UK consumers around 390 million pounds ($735
million) every year.

The police and Home Office backed software currently only works on so
called "smart phones" which run operating systems such as Symbian or
Windows Mobile, but it is expected to be suitable for the majority of
phones within two years as mobile technology advances.

"While primarily aimed at the business market...any product which adds
a level of security for the user and a barrier for the thief has to be
good news," said Mobile Industry Crime Action Forum (MICAF) Chairman
Jack Wraith.

Costing around 120 pounds ($224.3) a year the technology is not 100
percent fool proof however, with organized tech savvy thieves likely
to have the equipment and know how be able to get round the security

Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.

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