back to article Legal eagles pit Apple v. Samsung in thievery test

Sick of the number of reported phone thefts in their jurisdictions, lawmakers have decided to hold a contest to discover how easy it is to crack stolen smartphones for resale. New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman and San Francisco district attorney George Gascón have hired Northern California Regional Intelligence Center …

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"El Reg has to take issue with the math behind some of the lawmaker's claims."

Why? They are using the same math they always use when doing anything else, the government budget for instance.

Also, is your definition of eagles the same as my definition of turkeys?

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Big Brother

"Together, we are working to ensure that the industry imbeds persistent technology that is effective, ubiquitous and free to consumers in every smartphone introduced to the market by next year"

Of course they are. Retards.

Why are they even dealing with this in the first place? What they should do is make sure that one can install such a switch without going through "app store" shenanigans or that network operators get off their fat arse and offer a blocking service.

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Re: What they should do is make

Actually what they should do is the same thing the crooks do with a twist: Follow the money and bag the bad guys.

Somebody is reselling them. That's the weak point. Find them and bag them. Maybe with a few of their suppliers too.

Not that I necessarily object to them looking for better ways of securing the devices. But that should be their SECONDARY objective, not their PRIMARY one.

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challenge the math

I have to challenge your math challenge, any fool knows mathematics is plural, so contracts to maths, not math.

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Headmaster

Re: challenge the math

> I have to challenge your math challenge, any fool knows mathematics is plural, so contracts to maths, not math.

Usually I would have to agree.

However, in this case, math is short for mathematical as in "mathematical challenge" which is a singular adjective.

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Headmaster

Be careful of fools, they are sometimes right

It's both and neither. Like milk or sheep. Shortening to Math is generally acceptable.

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Pint

Re: Be careful of fools, they are sometimes right

So it's sheep's milk then? I'll pass and have a beer.

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Headmaster

Re: Be careful of fools, they are sometimes right

> Shortening to Math is generally acceptable.

Erm, no.

In a lot of contexts, the US usage of "math" is substitution for the adjective and therefore makes good sense.

However, as an abbreviation for mathematics, maths is probably the only correct form, since mathematics is a proper plural in the same sense that "logistics" is.

However, there may be some debate as to whether or not "mathematical test" correctly describes a test of mathematics since it could be correctly interpreted as a test of *any* subject, but mathematical in nature, e.g. a mathematical biology test, being a test of biology consisting of mathematical questions.

The use of math as an abbreviation for mathematics is just plain laziness, however.

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Idiots

Putting a remotely controlled kill switch for MY mobile into the hands of the manufacturer (or operator) - what could possibly go wrong? Apart from incompetence leading to inadvertently bricked devices, offering a blackmailing opportunity to operators, creating an attack vector for the black hats, providing an excuse for manufacturers and operators to prevent rooting and keep their bloatware installed, ....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Idiots

Hmmm. VISA have a kill switch for my credit card, but they only use it when I ask them.

Personally, I want the kill switch in MY hands. Once I have the IMEI registered to me, I want to be able to brick it from afar!

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Re: Idiots

You're lucky, I've had VISA block my credit card several times. Nearly always it's at the end of a business trip and I have to pay for something in the airport terminal while rushing to catch a flight.

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WTF?

Re: Idiots

The trick with Visa is to NOT tell them you are going abroad.

I have had my cards blocked several times - but ONLY on overseas trips where I told them where and when I would be using the card; on occasions where I failed to tell them, the cards worked perfectly - even for a 6 month trip to China!!

The WTF is for the card companies fairly useless security staff.

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Re: Idiots

>>The trick with Visa is to NOT tell them you are going abroad.<<

It's down to your bank, not Visa. Sounds like your bank are idiots. I tell mine when I'm off overseas, the cards all work OK, and they send me a text when the card gets used to check it's me. Banks are not all equal it seems!

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FAIL

Re: Idiots

even after spending the better amount of £5k on kit from ebay on my barclaycard in the last 18 months without so much of a twitch, the other day, whilst in the middle of paying an import duty to UPSon the phone I was called by barclaycard.

apparantly my spending pattern had flagged up suspicious activity. that week i had spend £3.24 on a cheap game on steam and paid £50 odd to UPS.

after i rang back the message (as i was still on the fecking line to ups at the time) it said something like 'hi we're barclaycard and we hate you. we think you're doing something dodgy, so please call us back on this number you've never seen before in your life and doesn't match the number on the back of your card. just to prove we aren't some fly by night shyster, log into your mybarclaycard account online and there will be a message in there to prove this is legit. i'd just like to remind you we're regulated by the financial service authority but we still hate you. later looser!'

so i log into mybarclaycard and... lo and behold.... NO MESSAGE. quell suprise! so phone on normal line. listen to barney harwood from radio 4 talking me through typing my number in and shit. get through to confused of india #1. talk talk talk talk. ok putting your though to fraud now... wait wait wait wait...get to go through the same fusking questions again and get to talk to confusied of india #2. i get the spanish inquisition. what was the £50 you just spent for? I'm sorry that's none of your fucking business. OK, what I meant was, this transaction with UPS, what kind of service do they provide? UPS? biggest delivery company in the world? WTF do you think its for? OK thank you sir. This payment of £3.24 to Steam Games what was that for? a game. oh, maybe it was weapons grade nuclear material. no i paid for that on my other card so definately a crappy cheap game. mumble mumble... type..type.... I see you reset your access code 2 weeks ago. was it you who did that? yes. why was that? because i forgot it. ok... (is this the bit where you go 'because i'm a master criminal and i've stolen this blokes identity')... eventually after like 20 mins on the phone this evil witch said 'is there anything I can help you with today'...

not 'appy.

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Re: Idiots

Depending on timing proximity, that is one of the markers they use for fraudulent behavior: really cheap purchase followed by a larger one. Once made that mistake when picking up my car from the shop. Put the gas on the credit card first for the car I was driving, then paid for the repairs on the one in the shop. Repairs were declined with a message to call the credit card company. I did, they put the purchase through and explained what happened. I've never done it again since.

Of course if there was more than a day between purchases, I have no idea what happened.

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This should be done by the networks

If you report your phone as stolen they should block the IMEI. The thieves then have to sell the phones outside of the country, which is much harder. Even better, ITU or whatever should look at this as well and do it internationally.

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Re: This should be done by the networks

There is an EU-wide equipment register for stolen phones - so they have to ship it a bit further afield. Only problem is that this register is not propagated to a wider number of countries.

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Re: This should be done by the networks

As above, and it works a treat in the EU, phones just aren't the theft magnet they used to be here.

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Re: This should be done by the networks

Thee networks benefit from the thefts - it increases handphone sales.

The IMEI is easily re-written, by those technical types with a little bit of equipment, IMEI has to be easily programmable for production reasons.

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Re: This should be done by the networks

I'm sure I've read before that operators aren't allowed to use IMEI blocking in the US. This is because phone manufacturers want to sell more phones. If the user gets his phone back then Apple/Samsung etc lose a sale

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This should be done by the networks

Most EU stolen phones end up in African nations or Baltic states.

The networks wont brick them as "a user is an paying asset" and the phone manufacturers wont block them as "the networks " would lose a paying customer

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El Reg has to take issue with the math behind some of the lawmaker's claims.

Maybe they used the same math they use to calculate the value of drugs.

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IT Angle

Re: El Reg has to take issue with the math behind some of the lawmaker's claims.

<sarcasm>What? You mean like taking the actual street price of a big seizure and multiplying it by 5 to make it look like demand is dropping, prices are increasing, and prohibition's working? Why ever would the Government do such a thing?</sarcasm>

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Or...

Turn on the GPS remotely, take a picture, send round the police to arrest the person with stolen goods.

Pretty soon;

A) no-one will steal phones

B) buy stolen phones.

And the problem is solved, as well as lots of other local burglary crimes too most likely.

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Re: Or...

Except the police won't. I take it you've never actually tried to get them to do anything regarding stolen property or money less than ten grand.

Most police forces are stats driven. You know, got to show crime is falling, cops are better at solving crimes than last year etc. The best way to achieve this is to duke the stats, so you are strongly discouraged from having crimes officially reported. No official report = no official crime numbers.

My partner had her identity stolen. They used her bank account to pay insurance on a car amongst other things. The bank and insurance where very helpful, but the cops where an absolute stonewall. It took an hour in the station before it was even accepted that any report be made, and only because I claimed the insurance company insisted on.

So the police have clear evidence of misappropriated funds, the address and registration of a car that was being used by the crooks, and they didn't want to even take the case details down. Because they know they won't catch the person.

However, as much as cops don't want you going vigilante, often showing up at the crooks place of residence (or work) with a few friends and ask them for the phone back that they mistakenly picked up.

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MAC address

Every network device has a unique MAC address. It can be spoofed, by transmitting a false one, but it is still there on the network chip. Why can they log them when a phone is sold or added to a network. It would catch all be the most sophisticated thieves.

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Whenever I hear the ridiculous stats for how many mobiles are stolen I always think most of them are "stolen" so the owner can get an upgrade.

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