Carriers Unite to Battle Cellphone Theft
As modern computing shifts from the desktop to a mobile device in small business we have been paying a great deal of attention to it. Mobility is one of the biggest benefits of the cloud and VARs are forced to both accept less control and assume more management of the overall technology in the workplace. Today we have the news that the Federal Communications Commission and carriers are about to help.
The nation’s major wireless providers have agreed to a deal with the U.S. government to build a central database of stolen cellphones—part of a broad effort to tame an explosion of thefts nationwide. Currently, Verizon Communications Inc. and Sprint Nextel Corp. block phones that are reported stolen from being reactivated. AT&T Inc. and Deutsche Telekom AG’s T-Mobile USA don’t. All four carriers have agreed to be part of the new database to prevent devices from being used again. According to the FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, the companies agreed to begin blocking stolen devices within six months. Similar stolen-phone databases are already in use abroad, including in the U.K., Germany, France and Australia. Although cell phone theft crimes haven’t stopped, the number of incidents has declined over time.
Wireless phones that have been reported stolen to the carrier will be listed in the database using unique serial numbers associated with mobile devices. The carriers will then block listed phones from accessing carrier networks for voice and data service and deny them access. The main idea is to make the phones impossible to use and in turn reduce the resale value of stolen devices. The databases actions will help to deter smartphones thefts and protect personal information contained on devices.
While this does a great deal to address the resale value of stolen goods, it doesn’t address your clients’ concerns about their data. There’s an opportunity here to fill the gap providing protection for your client’s real concerns. You can start with password audits, ensuring that device policies are in place on the Exchange side as an example to support remote wipes, and lastly but certainly not least putting together a process for them to follow. Multiple things come to mind, printing business cards with step-by-step procedures on what to do when your mobile device is lost or stolen would be one of them, recommending an app that helps locate devices could be another. There are multiple avenues to pursue here and yet another opportunity to ease your client’s security concerns about the cloud.
All in all, it’s good that the FCC and carriers are more concerned about stopping theft than dealing with the device usage and security. This leaves a lot of room for technology consultants to implement mobile solutions and make a profit from the high end assessments and consulting instead of going back to the maintenance.