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Power Key

For security
  [vote for,

If a smartphone or tablet is stolen, current security measures are easy to circumvent. Even if you notice right away that the device is missing and have an app installed to track it via GPS, the thief need simply power it off until he figures out how to perform a factory data reset to wipe the security password and gain access to the device.

A security feature I have never seen on any smartphone or tablet (any cellphone at all, for that matter), is an option to require a password to power the device off. I realize on many smartphones the battery could be removed, but consider that on nearly all tablets (For instance, the Apple iPad, Acer Iconia, and Samsung Galaxy Tab), and some smartphones (HP Veer, all iPhone models) the battery cannot be removed, and on many other phones the protective case is very difficult to remove so you've got some time to track.

And that's the big idea. A password requirement to power off a smartphone or tablet. If the password is forgotten, standard password reset procedures can be used.

21 Quest, Mar 11 2012


       This would be somewhat less effective for a device like an iPhone, where the battery can't be removed. If the OS crashes or locks up, the only way to reset it is to hold down the power and home buttons for a few seconds, which is a (I believe) a non-maskable hardware interrupt. So even if you couldn't shut the device off, you could continuously reset it, effectively accomplishing the same thing.

       Not the craziest thing I ever heard, though.
ytk, Mar 12 2012

       I thought this was going to be a hardware thing, maybe a physical key that has to be inserted to make the thing work. The key could be electronic but hard-wired (eg, a matrix of ten contacts in the key, whose pattern of hardwired connections has to complement that of the "lock" built into the machine).
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 12 2012

       "This tablet will self-destruct in 10 seconds."

       <Chief Quimby>"No, not again!"
RayfordSteele, Mar 12 2012

       My family has four iPads, an iPhone that we share depending on who's leaving the valley, and a MacBook Air that primarily belongs to my mother, and not one of these devices has crashed--ever.
Alterother, Mar 12 2012

       Ytk, you can also force a reset through iTunes, if you know the security password for the iPhone in question. I see your point about the soft reset method, but a LOT of iPhone owners don't even know how to turn the damned thing off, let alone perform a soft reset. I have customers call my desk every day because their iPhone has frozen or is running slowly. These are folks who have owned this device for over a year, yet they still think that simply clicking the power button once to lock the screen is the same thing as powering it off (this means it has never BEEN powered off during more than a year of constant use), and 2/3 of the ones that DO know how power it off are still running software as old as IOS 4.3.3 or earlier. Occasionally I still come across an iPhone 3G or 3GS that's still running IOS 3.1.3. Most iPhone users have no idea how to use the things properly.

       My point is that while yes, some of the dedicated iPhone users out there might be able to circumvent this security feature by keeping it in a soft reset loop, most people who would steal an iPhone (ie, people who DON'T already have one and thus don't know a lot about them) wouldn't even know to think to do that.

       And that's just for iPhones. Almost NOBODY knows how to soft reset an Android, Windows Phone, or Blackberry smartphone or tablet, and a good Otterbox- like case (or perhaps a new case that requires a key to open) would keep a casual thief from quickly removing the battery.
21 Quest, Mar 12 2012

       That sounds like a basic design error to me.
RayfordSteele, Mar 12 2012


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