Qualcomm Baking Kill Switch into Hardware
Security and privacy are growing concerns when it comes to mobile devices nowadays. So much that countries such as South Korea and America are passing bills and laws requiring manufacturers to integrate a “kill switch” into their devices so that the user and/or owner can protect their data by rendering the device useless when they lose it. Thus far, the kill switch has come via third party services on Android such as Lookout and on iOS via the find my phone service. However, it seems like that may not be enough with the increasing number of mobile devices being stolen.
The implementation of such a kill switch would require manufacturers to insert bits of code which when activated wipe the device of all its data. Some manufacturers have been including this code into their devices, in fact, Android now comes with a built-in remote wipe feature thanks to Android Device Manager. The same is true with iOS and find my phone. The downside of these features is that they work only if the device is on and they can be easily bypassed if you do a wipe of the operating system or download the data using the many tools available.
Qualcomm has stepped up to deliver an answer to this dilemma – a hardware kill switch they call SafeSwitch. There isn’t much detail on how the kill switch would work but Qualcomm does mention that SafeSwitch technology will be built in and integrated into certain chip. The chip manufacturer didn’t specify if their current chips will be able to support the technology. While this provides a foolproof solution for the software bypass, it also provides a an even more secure and reversible solution for the user and/or owner. Essentially, the SafeSwitch solution which Qualcomm is providing is easily adopted considering a majority of mobile device manufacturers already use their chips. It also provides a solution which many companies and even consumers will appreciate when it comes to recovering data from the device after the fact.
Qualcomm recently joined the Fast Identity Online Alliance (FIDO) and reiterates its commitment to supporting and developing biometric security standards in addition to its SafeSwitch technology.
Are you interested in a more secure device with a kill switch? Sound off in the comments down below.