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A Blackberry Pickpocket Notification System 83

Crackberry Guy writes "Research In Motion, the maker of the Blackberry, is looking into offering a wireless device that aims to thwart thieves and ease the minds of those who are prone to misplacing their handheld units. According to the recent patent application, the new device would be carried in a holster armed with a wireless transceiver. The handheld unit could be switched to a pickpocket mode so that once it's removed from the holster, a wireless alert message would be sent to the user. Unless a user authentication code is input in a predetermined length of time, the device's data would be rendered unusable."
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A Blackberry Pickpocket Notification System

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  • I Don't Get It (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Thursday September 21, 2006 @07:52AM (#16152508) Journal
    So this summary and article talk of an anti-theft (yes, they use that word) pickpocket notification system.

    Is this supposed to work in real time? I mean, setup the scenario in which this thing will prevent theft. Ok, a thief steals a BlackBerry and the victim receives a wireless message on their ... well, not BlackBerry because that's in pickpocket's hands right now. They probably aren't carrying anything else if the BlackBerry is supposed to encompass all. So maybe this just isn't going to realistically work in alerting you and thwarting a pickpocket on the street.

    What it does do is "render your data unusable" if you don't enter your code fast enough. Now, unless it also disables the device, I don't see that deterring pickpockets much at all. Since their primary take is probably the device itself for resale on the streets of your nearest metropolis. The data onboard is just a bonus if you were stupid enough to store financial information on a mobile device.

    But let's assume this "wireless alert message" would be in the form of sound waves (hey, sound waves are wireless) and were just a bunch of sirens and a guy shouting "I'm being stolen!" Well, I could imagine this to be either A) more trouble than it's worth, B) ineffective because a minute after it's removed from the holster it's probably already half way across town or C) a reason for a smack addict to shoot you when he holds you at gun point and demands everything in your pockets.

    "It's the kind of feature you didn't know you need until you see other people have it -- and then you want it," said James Faucette, an analyst with Pacific Crest Securities in Oregon.

    Faucette said government workers or those who have sensitive data on their BlackBerrys would be likely customers for the new feature, although he said that niche group of buyers probably wouldn't account for more than a hundred thousand customers in North America. "And even if it were 500,000, we're still only talking about 10 per cent of the BlackBerrys they're going to ship this year."
    I don't know about Faucette but where I work, BlackBerrys aren't allowed -- and your an idiot if you put any important data on a mobile device!

    So really, the only news here is that you can now be notified via e-mail or text message that your BlackBerry has officially been found to be not in its holster. I guess the people who get on the bus with their BlackBerry in their bag and then get off the bus without the BlackBerry in their bag will no longer have to put two and two together to discover that they've been robbed. They will be notified by e-mail which they can read at their leisure -- with things as stream lined as that, it must be THE FUTURE!
  • Lose the device? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ebob9 ( 726509 ) * on Thursday September 21, 2006 @07:53AM (#16152511)
    Great idea, but aren't they just giving us another device to lose? At least I can call my Blackberry when I lose it.

    Hopefully they've thought of this, but the article seems to be lacking details on this new device.

  • Ok, I give up (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Tim C ( 15259 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @07:58AM (#16152524)
    What exactly is the YRO topic for? I've seen stories that I thought didn't fit posted under it, but I could always see a (to me) tenuous link.

    This one has me completely stumped, however.
  • by decadre ( 980513 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @08:08AM (#16152557)
    Yes, you would have to carry around an extra device, but those that are security and privacy conscious this is a great thing.

    Yes, there will be the occasional accident where your data is wiped because you made a mistake and then couldn't find the damn thing, but one sync later and it's all better :)
  • Re:I Don't Get It (Score:2, Insightful)

    by maxrate ( 886773 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @08:16AM (#16152575)
    and your an idiot if you put any important data on a mobile device!

    If the data wasn't important, why are you carrying the BlackBerry around anyway? BlackBerry isn't very unqiue in what a typical mobile phone can carry today (data). Address book information and email are delivered to both BB's and mobile phones. I know a lot of people who use BB with out a 'blackberry enterprise server' -- a 'BES' server. BB's do not have a lot of functionality when you don't have a BES server.

    If you have a BB and it's connected to a BES server, the BES server has the ability to remotely destroy all the data on the BB (just call up your network admin and s/he will send the code to your phone).

    I think it's silly to suggest that BB doesn't know how to setup this anti-pickpocket system. I'm sure there might be a way of bypassing this extra security, however I think overall this will reduce the number of 'data leak' situations. Any little bit of extra security helps. I don't know if I'm like most guys on here, but I would love a system to keep my girlfriend out of my phone.

    Pickpockets are dumb - how many kazillions of car stereos have simiar anti-theft technology built in, but theifs still take them? Think of if you lose your wallet.... I know this has happened to a few people I know. They always say 'I don't care about the cash inside the wallet, just my drivers license, health card, etc, etc'. If I lost or had my BB stolen I all I would care about is the data - if the device is stolen, oh well, more reason to upgrade to the next model anyway.

    I think the main reason for this system is to keep the average person out of your phone, and if someone is sneaking a peek, you'll know about it.

  • Re:I Don't Get It (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 21, 2006 @08:27AM (#16152614)
    I think the main reason for this system is to keep the average person out of your phone, and if someone is sneaking a peek, you'll know about it.
    Oh, you'll know about it, alright. Your data will be rendered useless if they don't put it back in the holster. I'm glad I know that my coworker was checking my address book -- too bad I had to pay for it with all my data.
  • by mbourgon ( 186257 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @09:29AM (#16152877) Homepage
    There's this nifty thing on the blackberry. It's called a PASSWORD. When I pull mine out, it asks for a password. The holster already has a sensor - it's what allows two different modes of rings, one behavior in-holster, one out-of-holster. (default behavior - buzz if in the holster, ring if out)

    And, like someone else mentioned, you CAN disable them remotely. Found _that_ out the hard way. :(

    Anyhow, a total non-starter. All they need is some sort of setting (maybe it already exists) that if you drop your blackberry in the holster, it auto-locks.

    Besides - they don't care about the data, 99% of the time. They just want to pawn the device.
  • by aliendisaster ( 1001260 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @09:30AM (#16152890)
    This will never stop a theft. Do they think the average theif reads slashdot or keeps up with the newest anti-theft messures? No. The average theif has one of the following mentalities:

    1) I have a gun. I'm going to point it at this dude and take his shit.

    2) Good he's not looking. [swipe]

    3) This guy looks like he's got money. [bumps into rich guy] Oh, I'm sorry. [Minutes later...] Sweet, I got a black box thingy that looks technologicy. I'm going to sell it for $10 and buy a rock.

    I bet its pretty easy to sell a blackberry for $10 even if its been fried.
  • by Bloke down the pub ( 861787 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @12:47PM (#16154517)
    Beside which, if you are prepared to destroy your own property rather than let it fall into the hands of a thief, you don't deserve to have it in the first place.
    How so?

    Scenario one, you let the thief steal it. Result: you don't have it any more. Thief does, he's happy and will likely do it again.

    Scenario two, you destroy it. Result: you don't have it any more. But neither does the thief, so he hasn't had his aberrant behaviour rewarded. Happens often enough and the thief gives up or starves.
  • by tearmeapart ( 674637 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @12:51PM (#16154547) Homepage Journal
    Many of the comments above state that having private data on the blackberry is simply a big mistake. I disagree.

    I believe that for some situations, it is required to have private data on the blackberry. For instance, if my job is to go around fixing deployed hardware/software to different job sites (often without the internet or cell connectivity), I need to use the RIM as a data/password repository for applications/devices.

    I do not see any other device being as handy and secure as the blackberry for this job:
    Paper: Can easily be stolen, does not automatically update
    Remote login via other people's machines (e.g. ssh): Not always possible, and other people might have keyboard loggers.
    Laptop: Too bulky. Also easy to steal. Cannot update as easily as the RIM can.

    So if RIM comes out with a way to notify someoe that they no longer have the RIM on them, and also someway to remotely destroy data, I would be happy.

    Yes, I realize someone is probably going to reply with: How come you cannot just put a password on it?
    Well, I cannot trust my data with a single password, especially when someone has physical access to the device that has the data on it.

    -Really Paranoid guy.
    (Really, check my history)

Mathemeticians stand on each other's shoulders while computer scientists stand on each other's toes. -- Richard Hamming