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

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24 Comments

1. deanylev

Posts: 234; Member since: Mar 11, 2014

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

20. sprockkets

Posts: 1612; Member since: Jan 16, 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.

2. vuyonc

Posts: 1091; Member since: Feb 24, 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".

21. reckless562

Posts: 1153; Member since: Sep 09, 2013

YEESSSSS!!!

3. alexvoda

Posts: 39; Member since: Jan 11, 2013

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

12. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

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.

13. alexvoda

Posts: 39; Member since: Jan 11, 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.

15. alexvoda

Posts: 39; Member since: Jan 11, 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.

22. reckless562

Posts: 1153; Member since: Sep 09, 2013

hmmm didnt think bout that

14. RaKithAPeiRiZ

Posts: 1488; Member since: Dec 29, 2011

but a kill switch can delete any controversial videos right ?

17. alexvoda

Posts: 39; Member since: Jan 11, 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.

23. reckless562

Posts: 1153; Member since: Sep 09, 2013

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

16. StanleyG88

Posts: 240; Member since: Mar 15, 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.

24. reckless562

Posts: 1153; Member since: Sep 09, 2013

hey! they said almost

4. dTone

Posts: 69; Member since: Jan 09, 2015

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

18. alexvoda

Posts: 39; Member since: Jan 11, 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.

5. cpaixao

Posts: 15; Member since: Jan 07, 2015

Funny theater lol

6. Donbenie

Posts: 260; Member since: Aug 04, 2013

A welcomed development..

10. akki20892

Posts: 3902; Member since: Feb 04, 2013

Yea....

7. Donbenie

Posts: 260; Member since: Aug 04, 2013

A welcomed development..

11. akki20892

Posts: 3902; Member since: Feb 04, 2013

Hell yea....

8. itsdeepak4u2000

Posts: 3718; Member since: Nov 03, 2012

Great...

9. AfterShock

Posts: 4147; Member since: Nov 02, 2012

Remote control thermostat?

19. inyourdreams

Posts: 11; Member since: Dec 16, 2014

Nice feature

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