Tackling mobile crime

The Home Office has unveiled technological solutions designed to tackle rising mobile phone crime figures.

According to Government figures, 228 mobile phones are reported stolen in the UK every hour and mobile phone identity fraud rose by 74% in the first half of 2009.

The three new design innovations include a device that locks a phone and alerts the owner if it is taken away from them, were unveiled yesterday.

The solutions are:

  • i-migo – a small device which the user keeps about their person. The i-migo sounds an alert and locks the handset if it is taken out of a set range – either through theft or loss. The i-migo also provides automated backup of important data using Bluetooth technology;
  • The ‘tie’ solution – this electronically matches a handset to a SIM card and protects data stored on the handset with a password and encryption. If stolen, the handset cannot be used with another SIM and data such as saved passwords, browsed websites, and contacts cannot be accessed by criminals, who can use it to defraud victims, by hacking into online bank accounts; and
  • TouchSafe – aimed at making “M-Commerce” transactions more secure by using a small card worn or carried by the user, who discreetly touches the phone to the card to enable the transaction. Touch Safe uses the same Near Field Communication (NFC) technology currently used by the Oyster travel card.

The prototypes were developed by teams of designers and technology experts as part of the Mobile Phone Security Challenge, an initiative from the Home Office Design and Technology Alliance and the Design Council, with support and funding from the Technology Strategy Board.

The aim of the challenge was to protect mobile phone users from crimes such as mobile phone identity fraud, which rose by over 70 per cent in 2009, to make phones more secure and to prevent unauthorised use of mobiles for electronic ‘contactless’ payments, soon to be become widespread in the UK.

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