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  • AT&T to Help Users Cut Off Stolen Device Access


    If there's anything worse than losing your mobile device, it's knowing that the sticky-fingered thief who swiped it is now enjoying all your apps and possibly running up your bill to historic new heights.

    Fortunately, if this thought is as frightening to you as it is to others, help is on the way - possibly as soon as July 10th. Sources speaking with The Verge confess that AT&T will launch a new service "for reporting and blocking stolen devices."

    The service will allow customers to deny voice, data and SMS access to any individual phone or tablet while keeping their account intact, avoiding the inconvenience of a full SIM block.

    Based on an internal document leak at the carrier, AT&T will maintain a database called a "blocklist" where all reported stolen devices will have service immediately suspended "if any attempt is made to use a device that is stored in the blocklist."

    Adding a device to this blocklist will be pretty simple. According to AT&T, users only need to contact customer service. However, users with remote data wipe apps will be mandated to activate those particular apps and their corresponding security measures before the device's service can be suspended by AT&T. This, of course, is advisable to "prevent access to their personal information."

    Source: The Verge
    This article was originally published in forum thread: AT&T to Help Users Cut Off Stolen Device Access started by Michael Essany View original post
    Comments 13 Comments
    1. hitman10's Avatar
      hitman10 -
      What should happen is you report your serial number and when that gets used on any carrier the person cannot activate it at the least. That should be done by apple or who ever. They can track what we surf on the web and are location and this and that yet they cant add a simple... no restore, iphone is bricked unless apple unblocks the serial.
    1. norfskate's Avatar
      norfskate -
      I don't want to sound like a nob, but this exact service has been available from the uk networks and with any phone for at least 5 years now :-P
    1. brodimus's Avatar
      brodimus -
      "Because if anyone is gonna steal from you and get away with it, it's gonna be us."

      -AT&T Exec
    1. sobeniceguy2's Avatar
      sobeniceguy2 -
      I agree, blocking each phone by serial number is the way to go. It would cut down the number of phones stolen if they can't be activated on another carrier or account with the same carrier. AT&T has had the ability to disable stolen iphones for quiet sometime but has neglected to enforce it since they make soooo much $$ off of it.
    1. BenderRodriguez's Avatar
      BenderRodriguez -
      this is retarded, what they should do is upload code once you report it stolen locking up all apps, so they take it into apple and u get your iPhone back or ping the GPS on the iPhone so that the police can get it back for you
      I personally don't really care if someone used my iPhone as long as they don't crack my screen or damage it in any way

      robbers can't rack up charges on apps without the password unless u have the password auto fill hack so this is useless, except for the fact that your out the price of the iPhone +200 cause your not in the market for an upgrade
    1. Cer0's Avatar
      Cer0 -
      This is not just for Apple phones but all cell phones. And ATT once they get it going plan on working with other carriers to make a multi carrier database.
    1. Orby's Avatar
      Orby -
      Quote Originally Posted by sobeniceguy2 View Post
      I agree, blocking each phone by serial number is the way to go. It would cut down the number of phones stolen if they can't be activated on another carrier or account with the same carrier. AT&T has had the ability to disable stolen iphones for quiet sometime but has neglected to enforce it since they make soooo much $$ off of it.
      Serial numbers of iPhones can be changed fairly easily, especially if you have the right tools (which also changes the phone's UDID).

      If Apple really cared about putting a stop to iPhone theft and resale, they'd stop signing SHSH blobs for stolen ECID's (which are darn near impossible to change) and activation tickets for stolen IMEIs polled from a global database. These things would still be possible to bypass for older phones, but the barrier of entry is much higher.

      That aside, I'm glad to see AT&T getting with the rest of the cell phone world, circa 2003. Unless, of course, AT&T just blocks the SIM instead of killing it entirely, while not blocking the IMEI (which is just pointless).
    1. cmwade77's Avatar
      cmwade77 -
      Here is what the procedure should be:
      You call AT&T and report the phone as stolen
      AT&T checks the location of the phone and reports it to the police
      AT&T remotely backs up the phone
      AT&T wipes the phone automatically
      AT&T then monitors the location of the phone in real time, reporting it to the police as necessary until the phone is recovered.
      I say AT&T above for simplicity, but this could really be any carrier.

      Also, no carrier should allow a phone that has been reported as stolen to be activated and when someone tries, the police should be called, unless the person can demonstrate that they are the rightful owner and the phone has been returned to them.
    1. sziklassy's Avatar
      sziklassy -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmwade77 View Post
      Here is what the procedure should be:
      You call AT&T and report the phone as stolen
      AT&T checks the location of the phone and reports it to the police
      AT&T remotely backs up the phone
      AT&T wipes the phone automatically
      AT&T then monitors the location of the phone in real time, reporting it to the police as necessary until the phone is recovered.
      I say AT&T above for simplicity, but this could really be any carrier.

      Also, no carrier should allow a phone that has been reported as stolen to be activated and when someone tries, the police should be called, unless the person can demonstrate that they are the rightful owner and the phone has been returned to them.
      And AT&T charges $50/mo for this service... What you are suggesting is cool, certainly, but it wouldn't be cheap. When did we atart expecting wireless carriers and phone manufacturers to get this involved with getting a lost/stolen product back? You don't even get service like this for a car (unless you pay for it) for Christ's sake!
    1. sobeniceguy2's Avatar
      sobeniceguy2 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Orby View Post
      Serial numbers of iPhones can be changed fairly easily, especially if you have the right tools (which also changes the phone's UDID).

      If Apple really cared about putting a stop to iPhone theft and resale, they'd stop signing SHSH blobs for stolen ECID's (which are darn near impossible to change) and activation tickets for stolen IMEIs polled from a global database. These things would still be possible to bypass for older phones, but the barrier of entry is much higher.

      That aside, I'm glad to see AT&T getting with the rest of the cell phone world, circa 2003. Unless, of course, AT&T just blocks the SIM instead of killing it entirely, while not blocking the IMEI (which is just pointless).
      When I said Serial numbers I meant ECID's and IMEI's in laymen's terms. I agree a global database is a good idea to reduce the number of phones being stolen and used elseware.
    1. thevmax's Avatar
      thevmax -
      Ya, AT&T AND all the other carriers could have done this from the start.
      The reason they didn't: FOLLOW THE MONEY!
      I know they have the ability because that's how 911 works.
      BUT, there has been no incentive. Think about it...
      If the carrier can sell you a new phone and make another $200 to $400,
      why would they want to help you get your phone back.
      Now they will do more because they still want to keep you as their customer.
    1. RoloDiva13's Avatar
      RoloDiva13 -
      Quote Originally Posted by brodimus View Post
      "because if anyone is gonna steal from you and get away with it, it's gonna be us."

      -at&t exec
      rme smdh

      Quote Originally Posted by sziklassy View Post
      And AT&T charges $50/mo for this service... What you are suggesting is cool, certainly, but it wouldn't be cheap. When did we atart expecting wireless carriers and phone manufacturers to get this involved with getting a lost/stolen product back? You don't even get service like this for a car (unless you pay for it) for Christ's sake!
      Exactly, thank you!

      Quote Originally Posted by thevmax View Post
      Ya, AT&T AND all the other carriers could have done this from the start.
      The reason they didn't: FOLLOW THE MONEY!
      I know they have the ability because that's how 911 works.
      BUT, there has been no incentive. Think about it...
      If the carrier can sell you a new phone and make another $200 to $400,
      why would they want to help you get your phone back.
      Now they will do more because they still want to keep you as their customer.
      Wrong. How is selling you another phone going to help the Carrier?? That's padding the manufacturer's pocket for sure but not the carrier who is most certainly going to cow tow to you whiners among us and give you a discounted price via early upgrade. That's another contract which also is actually LOSING them $ because now you didn't even fulfill the FIRST 24-mo contract they gave you the now stolen first discounted phone on. If anyone is making $$ it's the insurance companies like Asurion charging $7/mo and a $200 deductible to replace a phone (see iPhone deductibles).

      Oh and the FCC mandated this. Trust and believe AT&T would not have done this if there was a choice simply for the fact it will certainly turn into a nightmare of people calling in trying to get back at a crazy ex by blocking his/her phone.
    1. Donnutt's Avatar
      Donnutt -
      I wouldn't cut off the device at first, rather take a laptop to the police and say "someone stole my $800 phone and they are right....here."
      Hopefully whoever steals my iPhone doesn't shut it off or reformat it right away.