AT&T launching new smartphone anti-theft service on Tuesday

By , Jul 6, 2012

Apple’s Find My iPhone service is rather convenient for finding a lost device, but it falls short in theft prevention. See, thieves have figured out by now they simply need to shut down a stolen device to stop Find My iPhone.

Cabel Sasser thought of an interesting solution – a “Shutdown Requires PIN” feature in iOS Settings – and carrier AT&T’s also been tackling this problem for some time.

It looks like the nation’s leading carrier, which sold 17.5 million iPhones last year, has indeed come up with an effective remedy that might keep iPhone thieves on the grid longer: a block list of sorts on the network end…

Louis Goddard, reporting for The Verge, lays it all out:

AT&T will launch a new service for reporting and blocking stolen devices on Tuesday, July 10, according to a trusted source.

The service will allow customers to deny voice, data and SMS access to any individual phone or tablet while keeping their account intact, avoiding the inconvenience of a full SIM block.

The carrier already informed its customer service representatives that its servers will automatically suspend service “if any attempt is made to use a device that is stored in the blocklist.” Users will need to contact a customer service representative directly in order to re-enable service.

Also, “users with remote data wipe apps will be required to activate them before suspending their device, to prevent access to their personal information”.

AT&T’s new service is likely a part of of a Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) initiative from April which promised to create a joint database that would keep track of stolen handsets and those reported as lost.

According to FCC, a whopping forty percent of all robberies in major metropolitan areas are mobile devices, especially pricey and popular gadgets such as the iPhone and iPad.

I’ve always wondered why carriers never tapped their back-end to prevent device theft, or make it inconvenient at the least. AT&T’s solution struck me as the most effective yet, though I wished AT&T worked more closely with device vendors to really tighten security.

For example, I’d love to be able to use Find My iPhone to directly lock my stolen device on the network end, without wasting time on paperwork with a carrier.

What do you think?

Speaking of Find My iPhone: please, rename it to reflect the fact it supports all iOS devices, not just iPhones.

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  • selcukcura

    Apple could rename the app to FindMyi maybe?

    • Chris

      Haha

  • http://twitter.com/MCaudebec Maxim∑

    This seriously should have existed years ago AT&T

  • mordechai eliyahu

    if i put e gevey in the phone it still wont wrk?

    • ReanimationXP

      This would only block the phone from ATT’s network. Wouldn’t work on any other carriers and has nothing to do with the handset itself.

  • http://twitter.com/OneOfDaKine2 Harrison Gomez

    Great Idea, put it on the Airplane mode too

  • http://twitter.com/Dongiuj DonGiuj

    Anti theft service. For a minute i thought AT&T were going to add a heavy weight to the phones making near impossible to lift or something. Lucky i read the article.

  • http://twitter.com/Chubbyguts Rob bert

    Is there a jailbreak tweak that makes the iphone need a pin to shut down?

    • http://twitter.com/Chubbyguts Rob bert

      icaughtya in cydia prevents shut down when locked. It’s free. But please donate

  • http://twitter.com/luissantana_a Luis Santana

    Any App for that ? or Cydia Tweak ? Shutdown pin require ? Thanks

  • san andreas

    Easy …. Home screen + lock button
    Dfu mode ON
    Connect the iPhone to iTunes
    Restore

    • ReanimationXP

      This is an IMEI block from what I understand. Restoring, and even a new SIM, would not help.

  • Gizmo Garcia

    AT&T has Always had a Device Life Cycle Tool. How do you think we look up your iPhone in the system to make sure the device is not on another AT&T account or reported lost/stolen when you are trying to request an iPhone unlock?? The problem is there was never a database the was convenient to do all the leg work. A rep has to look up the device in DLC per the IMEI and if it was flagged on another acct the rep has to go to each account individually and review the notes to see if the device was reported lost stolen. So most reps are too lazy to do this. Now the DLC has an option to “blacklist” the IMEI and once any rep pulls up that IMEI it will show if it is “blacklisted” or not and now the rep does not have to go searching everywhere to confirm this. The DLC now integrates with the billing system and if an AT&T user puts their sim in a “blacklisted” device the user receives a notification on the device and the line is suspended. Yes a device can be removed from the “blacklist” as well provided some strict requirements are met. Yes this is something AT&T is doing with regards to “Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) initiative from April which promised to create a joint database”

  • http://twitter.com/Amyescence D.

    In the mean time I use iGotYa from Cydia :D

    If someone is trying to unlock your device for more than 1 time (you
    can also set it to the first time only), it takes a picture from the front facing camera and sends it to your email or to your number with the coordinates WITHOUT the person knowing. It can also show a custom text message, prevent power off or enable a secure mode if the pin is entered wrong.

    And I have to say I give big thanks for it because it really comes in handy.