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Qualcomm puts a kill switch in the Snapdragon 810 chipset, SafeSwitch is now official

Posted: , by Peter K.

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Qualcomm puts a kill switch in the Snapdragon 810 chipset, SafeSwitch is now official

After the "kill switch" became the law in certain states, more and more manufacturers and software developers are beginning to employ this security-related feature in the devices and mobile platforms they develop. The newest from Google's camp, Android 5.0 Lollipop, comes with a kill switch; it's turned on by default in Apple's newest, iOS 8, as well. Windows Phone 8.1 has it, too.

As you probably know, said kill switches allow you to remotely disable your device, thus protecting your sensitive data in case that you lose it or someone steals it from you. 

It now seems that Qualcomm, the leader on the chipset market, has also hopped on the kill switch bandwagon. The Snapdragon 810 silicon comes with Qualcomm's own kill switch security functionality on board. Dubbed SafeSwitch, Qualcomm's solution is a hardware-based one and it's yet another option ahead of all those smartphone manufacturers that put said chip in their devices. SafeSwitch will allow you to "set a password remotely, erase and recover data, and locate or lock a lost or stolen device".

We don't know what future Qualcomm chipsets will come with SafeSwitch, but chances are that the chipset maker might make this security feature a standard for its products.

But what makes it any different from the other types of kill switches that are already out there? Well, as Qualcomm puts it, SafeSwitch is described to being almost impossible to "hack", not only because it's hardware-based, but due to its early activation during the boot process, long before the rest of the firmware on your phone starts.

That sounds pretty safe to us. Any thoughts?



source: Qualcomm via SlashGear

24 Comments
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posted on 09 Jan 2015, 06:05 8

1. deanylev (Posts: 214; Member since: 11 Mar 2014)


Awesome, hardware killswitch is 100% more important. Can never be stopped.

posted on 09 Jan 2015, 12:19 1

20. sprockkets (Posts: 1611; Member since: 16 Jan 2012)


There was an article last year that apple's was bypassed by spoofing the server that tells them to be locked. They then told the phone to unlock.

No word as to whether apple fixed it. Probaby did.

Also, jcase managed to find a way to unlock moto's bootloader, which means if this was on the phone, would also have been circumvented.

STILL, better than nothing.

posted on 09 Jan 2015, 06:10 10

2. vuyonc (Posts: 1023; Member since: 24 Feb 2014)


Seems good. Petty crooks wouldn't go out of their way to circumvent a hardware killswitch.

For kicks and giggles, Qualcomm should include a 'seppuku' (harakiri?) animation with the words "I'd rather die than surrender".

posted on 09 Jan 2015, 13:10

21. reckless562 (banned) (Posts: 1153; Member since: 09 Sep 2013)


YEESSSSS!!!

posted on 09 Jan 2015, 06:17 8

3. alexvoda (Posts: 26; Member since: 11 Jan 2013)


Great, a way for the government to cut your communication lines, now implemented in unchangeable hardware.

posted on 09 Jan 2015, 07:49 1

12. RebelwithoutaClue (Posts: 3038; Member since: 05 Apr 2013)


The government can already cut your comm lines using the provider. And from what I get, only the user can kill the phone and it's almost unhackable.

posted on 09 Jan 2015, 08:26 4

13. alexvoda (Posts: 26; Member since: 11 Jan 2013)


Obviously they could already cut the cell towers, but that still left you with wifi (and in the worst case, mesh networking wifi).
Now you are left with a brick.

posted on 09 Jan 2015, 08:45 2

15. alexvoda (Posts: 26; Member since: 11 Jan 2013)


In order for the user to be the only one with the kill switch, he has to have some sort of personal server which the phone connects to everytime it is unlocked.
Otherwise, if some sort of online service (provided by a third party) is used, the user is inherently not the only one with the capability.

Besides, if the tief is well equiped, any information leakage is likely to occur before the user notices that his phone was stolen(and obviously, before he can use the kill switch).

Implementing this in hardware does not serve the user in any way.

posted on 09 Jan 2015, 13:12

22. reckless562 (banned) (Posts: 1153; Member since: 09 Sep 2013)


hmmm didnt think bout that

posted on 09 Jan 2015, 08:30 1

14. RaKithAPeiRiZ (Posts: 1488; Member since: 29 Dec 2011)


but a kill switch can delete any controversial videos right ?

posted on 09 Jan 2015, 08:52 2

17. alexvoda (Posts: 26; Member since: 11 Jan 2013)


Yes, the technology for this could theoretically alow for:
- preventing unlocking
- parmanently erasing data
- activating the GPS and tracking the device
- permanently bricking the device
and potentially other remote capabilities.

And the user is not the only one with these capabilities as long as the command center for all this is not implemented in freedom respecting software hosted on a server controlled by the user.

posted on 09 Jan 2015, 13:22

23. reckless562 (banned) (Posts: 1153; Member since: 09 Sep 2013)


lmao!! is that what the kids are calling them these days?

posted on 09 Jan 2015, 08:46 2

16. StanleyG88 (Posts: 231; Member since: 15 Mar 2012)


How many times have the word "unhackable" been eaten as Crow? Have feeling this will be another of those times. They've just installed this hackers "weapon" already in the phones. All the hacker needs to do is access it. This WILL be done, just wait.

posted on 09 Jan 2015, 13:24

24. reckless562 (banned) (Posts: 1153; Member since: 09 Sep 2013)


hey! they said almost

posted on 09 Jan 2015, 06:40 3

4. dTone (Posts: 69; Member since: 09 Jan 2015)


As long as Service Providers, OEMs and Governments don't have access to it, then I'm all for it.

posted on 09 Jan 2015, 09:00 1

18. alexvoda (Posts: 26; Member since: 11 Jan 2013)


They do have access to it.
As long as you have to use some sort of online interface provided by a 3'rd party, they inherently have access to it.

posted on 09 Jan 2015, 06:52 1

5. cpaixao (Posts: 15; Member since: 07 Jan 2015)


Funny theater lol

posted on 09 Jan 2015, 06:58 1

6. Donbenie (Posts: 208; Member since: 04 Aug 2013)


A welcomed development..

posted on 09 Jan 2015, 07:47 2

10. akki20892 (Posts: 3901; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)


Yea....

posted on 09 Jan 2015, 06:58 1

7. Donbenie (Posts: 208; Member since: 04 Aug 2013)


A welcomed development..

posted on 09 Jan 2015, 07:48 2

11. akki20892 (Posts: 3901; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)


Hell yea....

posted on 09 Jan 2015, 07:19

8. itsdeepak4u2000 (Posts: 3718; Member since: 03 Nov 2012)


Great...

posted on 09 Jan 2015, 07:32 1

9. AfterShock (Posts: 3698; Member since: 02 Nov 2012)


Remote control thermostat?

posted on 09 Jan 2015, 09:01

19. inyourdreams (Posts: 11; Member since: 16 Dec 2014)


Nice feature

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