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商业 - 科技

自杀开关:手机防盗终极大招?

Jane Porter 2014年05月29日

一旦手机被盗,机主就可以远程启动手机中的自杀开关,小偷偷来的手机最终就会变成一块毫无用处的板砖。但它真的能够从源头上阻止手机被盗吗?

    智能手机日新月异的同时,随之而来的是被偷走的手机越来越多。如何能既防贼偷、又防贼惦记?美国加州的立法者们似乎认为,只要强制手机厂商给手机安一个“自杀开关”,就能一劳永逸地解决这个问题。本月,加州参议院通过了一项强制手机提供商在设备上加装“自杀开关”的法案。但是一个关键的问题目前仍然没有答案:“自杀开关”是否是手机防盗的终极方案?

    行业专家们针对这个问题还没有形成共识。但是手机被盗无疑已经是一个越来越严重的问题。根据《消费者报告》(Consumer Reports)的数据,2013年美国有超过300万部智能手机被盗,远超2012年的160万部。另据旧金山警局表示,光是在旧金山,去年就有2400部手机被偷,比前年上涨了23个百分点。软件与云安全服务提供商Centrify公司的CEO汤姆•坎姆指出:“全美各地的警察局几乎都被智能手机被盗的案子给淹没了。”

    这个编号“SB 962”的法案是由加州参议员马克•雷诺提出的,并且获得了旧金山地区地方检察官乔治•加斯肯的支持。如果这份提案最早在八月初能获得加州众议院以及州长杰瑞•布朗的批准,它将意味着从2015年7月1日起,所有在加州销售的智能手机都要安装一个能让手机变成板砖一块的“自杀开关”。如果手机销售商违反这项法案,则将面临最高每部手机2500美元的罚款。

    这项法案最初在今年四月被加州参议员驳回,而且还遭到了包括苹果(Apple)和微软(Microsoft)在内的几大主流厂商的抵制,但它最终还是在本月以26对8的比率投票通过。虽然这项法案主要着眼于加州,但是由于加州强制推动的手机附加功能很可能逐渐普及到在全美各地销售的手机上,因此它的影响将是全国性的。

    美国无线通信与互联网协会(CTIA)也是这项法案的反对者之一。这个协会代表了无线服务商的利益,它认为如果强制手机提供商一个州一个州地加装防盗装置,最终只会损害消费者的利益。同时CTIA也认为,行业本身最终会加强在手机防盗领域的创新。CTIA的对外与对公事务副理事长杰米•哈斯廷斯说:“逐个州出台技术要求只会僵化创新,最终受害的是消费者。”为了在这个问题上掌握主动权,CTIA上个月发布了一份由苹果、三星(Samsung)、美国电话电报公司(AT&T)、威瑞森(Verizon)等电信巨头联名签署的《智能手机防盗自愿承诺》,宣誓从2015年7月起生产的智能手机将加装免费的内置防盗工具。

    但是这项法案的支持者并不认为光是这样就足够了,他们认为立法途径是促进各大厂商加强手机防盗的一种有效方式。安全技术与服务提供商CrowdStrike公司共同创始人兼技术总监德米特里•阿帕罗维奇认为:“加州立法机构这次迈出了积极的一步,促使行业真正加快了开发防盗解决方案的步伐。”

    也有人认为这项法案显示出干预行业正常发展的迹象。迈克菲在线安全专家罗伯特•西西里亚诺指出:“支持‘自杀开关’的人根本不知道科技是怎样运作的。只要犯罪分子怀有恶意,不管你用什么样的自杀开关,都是可以破解的,最终只会形同虚设。”

    How do you stop the growing epidemic of stolen smartphones? Lawmakers in California seem to think it's by mandating providers to sell devices with built-in "kill switch" capabilities that would make stolen phones inoperable. This month, when the California Senate approved a bill that would require smartphone providers to build a "kill switch" feature into their devices, a key question was left unanswered: Is this the solution to smartphone theft?

    You'd be hard-pressed to find a consensus among industry experts on the matter. What's clear is that cell phone theft is a growing problem. In 2013, more than three million devices were stolen in the U.S., up from 1.6 million in 2012, according to Consumer Reports. And in San Francisco alone, 2,400 cellphones were stolen in 2013, up by 23 percent from the year before, according to the San Francisco Police Department. "Police departments across the U.S. are starting to drown in smart phone thefts,"says Tom Kemp, CEO of Centrify, a software and cloud security provider.

    The bill, SB 962, introduced by State Senator Mark Leno and sponsored by San Francisco's district attorney, George Gascón, is an attempt to curb these alarming figures. If approved by the California State Assembly and Governor Jerry Brown as early as August, it would require all smartphones sold after July 1, 2015 in California to include a kill switch function that would effectively "brick" stolen phones. Those sellers who don't comply would face fines of up to $2,500 per device.

    The bill, which was originally rejected by the California Senate in April and opposed by major providers including Apple (AAPL) and Microsoft (MSFT), passed this month with a vote of 26 to 8. While it targets the state of California, its effects would be national, as added features mandated by the state would likely make it into phones sold across the country.

    Opponents of the bill including CTIA, the wireless association that represents providers, believe forcing providers to put a solution in place state-by-state will only hurt consumers in the end. The group believes that the industry itself should drive innovation in the field. "State-by-state technology mandates stifle innovation to the ultimate detriment to the consumer," according to a statement released by Jamie Hastings, CTIA's vice president of external and state affairs. In an attempt to take matters into its own hands, last month, CTIA released a "Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment," an agreement signed by major industry players like Apple, Samsung, AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZN) who pledge that smartphones they manufacture after July 2015 will include free built-in antitheft tools.

    But supporters of the bill aren't convinced this is enough and see legislation as a way to speed up the process. "What that California legislation does is a positive step in encouraging the industry to actually develop a solution faster," says DmitriAlperovitch, cofounder and CTO of CrowdStrike Inc., a provider of security technology and services.

    Others see it as a sign of meddling in the industry. "Proponents of a kill switch know nothing about how technology works," says Robert Siciliano, a McAfee Online Security expert. "Whatever kill switch is implemented, will be hack-able and rendered useless by anyone with ill intent."

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