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smartphone theft

Android and Windows Phone smartphones’ security credentials are being upgraded with an iPhone-style kill switch, in what's shaping up to be a sustained clamp down on handset theft.

The move from Google and Microsoft follows a report revealing that thefts of iPhones tumbled 19% during the first five months of 2014.

The drop is attributed to a security feature dubbed Activation Lock that allows iPhone users to remotely render phones inoperable in the event that they are stolen.

Conversely, the number of stolen Samsung devices stolen in the same period was up by 40 per cent. The South Korean phone-maker has rather dragged its heels over implementing a kill switch, which only hit many of its handsets in April.

Google has yet to name a date for when it will introduce the function but said that “factory reset protection solution” will drop with the next version of Android.

Microsoft’s Vice President for U.S. Government Affairs Fred Humphries said the Redmond-based giant will introduce a remote kill switch as part of its existing Find My Phone service before July 2015.

This will also introduce remote wiping of data and the option to lock the handset to all uses to except emergency calls.

Writing in a blog post, he stated: “With these additional features, we’re hopeful that technology – as part of a broader strategy – can help to further reduce incentives for criminals to steal smartphones in the first place.

"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.”

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