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UK Firm To Release 'Screaming' Cell Phone 230

rubberbando writes "Yahoo news is running a story about a plan by a UK cell phone company to help reduce cell theft. Apparently, this new cell phone can be sent a signal after its owner has realized that it has been lost or stolen. The signal tells the phone to wipe all of its data and begin emitting a very loud and obnoxious sound. The sound will only stop if the battery runs out or is removed, but it will begin again as soon as the battery is replaced or charged. Even replacing the sim card will not help."
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UK Firm To Release 'Screaming' Cell Phone

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  • by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <> on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @03:34AM (#16288647)
    It sounds from the description that these phones will become functionally useless once you do this to them. What a fun prank to pull on your friends!
  • So basically... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tuxedo Jack ( 648130 ) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @03:36AM (#16288663) Homepage
    There's a hardware GUID. Whoopdy-do; if there's a remote method to turn it on via software, there's a method to turn it off via software.
  • Obnoxious? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fembot ( 442827 ) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @03:36AM (#16288669)
    The thing I don't get is how exactly they expect this to be any more loud and obnoxious than all these damn ringtones are already!
  • by RsG ( 809189 ) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @03:40AM (#16288695)
    Even better, imagine what will happen if their system is less than secure. Try and think about the damage a script kiddie could do if he got ahold of a list of people's passwords and phone numbers.

    Or, even worse, if he found out how to send the signal to the phones sans password - after all, if the company is lazy, then maybe all they'd do is dial up the cell phone and send a general purpose "kill" signal. Figure out how to tell the cellphone that it's stolen while still in the possession of its owner, and you can make somebody very, very mad.
  • by fatcop ( 976413 ) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @04:10AM (#16288825)
    I lost my mobile 3 times over a period of a few years. Yes the same one. Every time some saint returned it to the local police station and I'd get it back. Quite amazing considering the inner city area I live in Sydney.

    But I can just imagine them feeling all gooey inside about the good deed they are about to do ... then suddenly this phone starts screaming like a Blitzkreig air raid, and in the panic they stomp my phone into a fine power and run off traumatised !! Fat lot of good THAT feature would do me :)
  • by Jaruzel ( 804522 ) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @05:13AM (#16289129) Homepage Journal
    The kill signal will probably be in the format of a special (Operator) SMS text message. Much in the same way your Internet settings can be sent by your provider over the air (OTA) to your phone.

    However, I had an app a while back that could 'build' Operator SMS messages and send them out to peoples phones, so yeah, unless the Operator takes serious steps to secure this system, it's gonna be hacked in no time. Once hacked, the concept will be useless, and the manufacturers will stop including the kill-system in the firmware...

  • by commodoresloat ( 172735 ) * on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @05:40AM (#16289235)
    Depends what you mean by "activity." If the phone is on, it can be tracked.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @05:57AM (#16289335)

    > Also, a pay as you go SIM card normally isn't linked to an identity.

    It is very much linked to an identity when the phone spends 6-8 hours per day in the same house and spends workdays at same place of business.

    If you carry a cellphone for any length of time, your identity and position at any time are easy to deduce by anyone with access to operator logs.

    If you carry it anywhere near security cameras, the position, time and date result in a picture!
  • by gjuk ( 940514 ) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @06:04AM (#16289371)
    This is yet another one-trick pony. Basically, a few years ago, desperate investors, not yet burnt enough by the dotcom boom, realised they should be backing "mobile" ventures. Anything would do, as long as it was "mobile".

    Note that these guys charge £100 / year ($220). Given that the average mobile would cost £200 to replace (tops, brand new) and you get a free one every year or two with a contract - they are suggesting you pay an insurance premium of c. 50% of the phone value, for a phone which you'll probably be getting rid of soon - and which the networks will disable if you report stolen. Oh yeah, and you don't actually get the phone back, it just screams.

    To be fair - the real benefit is that it backs up the data on the phone; but if you're sensitive enough to spend £100/yr on this service, you ought to find a better way. The fact that this is "Home Office and Police backed" just goes to show how readily these agencies piss our money on pointlessness.
  • Good feature (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pryonic ( 938155 ) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @06:32AM (#16289485)
    It would be handy if I could remotely set this off for people who feel it's necessary to play tinny RnB MP3s through their phones on long train journies. The scream would probably sound better than that noise, or may convince them just to turn the damn thing off.

    Am I the only person that finds this new 'trend' amongst teenagers on trains antisocial and inconsiderate?

  • by Itchy Rich ( 818896 ) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @08:19AM (#16290019)

    Try and think about the damage a script kiddie could do if he got ahold of a list of people's passwords and phone numbers.

    I doubt they'll need script kiddies to screw this up for them.

  • Re:Obnoxious? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pete6677 ( 681676 ) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @10:45AM (#16291611)
    Some asshole will probably find a way to use this sound as his ringtone!

From Sharp minds come... pointed heads. -- Bryan Sparrowhawk