Feeds

Gov claims mobile phone theft waning as penalty rises

But is there still a market?

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

Mobile phone theft has almost been eliminated, according to the Home Office.

It announced last week that 80 per cent of handsets are now blocked within 48 hours of the theft being notified, and new jail terms have been introduced for those found attempting to reprogramme stolen handsets.

The use of SIM chips allowed stolen phones to be easily used and has contributed to the huge number of phones nicked each year.

However, every phone has a unique identifier, the IMEI, which is sent to the network during registration - so it's just a matter of getting all the networks to use a central blacklist of stolen kit which can then be blocked.

The Central Equipment Identification Register (CEIR) keeps a list of all stolen handsets, as reported by the public to the network operators, and each day the operators download a copy of that list. This should mean that any handset stolen can be blocked within 48 hours of being reported, and it seems this is happening in a large majority of cases.

Blocking the IMEI doesn't make the phone useless, it just prevents it being used on a network connected to the CEIR. However, many networks around the world aren't connected to the CEIR.

It takes national legislation to force network operators to use the CEIR, but even then a stolen handset might have some value if it can be re-programmed with a different IMEI.

Changing the IMEI on a phone is difficult and has been illegal in the UK since 2002. As of Friday, even offering to reprogramme it could land you five years in chokey.

So stolen phones can be shipped abroad or illegally re-programmed, but there are other reasons a phone might disappear:

Insurance fraud on mobile phones is endemic, with everyone wanting a free upgrade, while muggers will generally take a phone to prevent a quick call to the police.

So what we have is an announcement that a policy brought in five years ago is finally working, in the UK at least, and a new law making it an offence to offer to break the previous law.

Hardly enough to "drive down street crime and make people safer in their communities" as promised by the Home Office. ®

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
BMW's ConnectedDrive falls over, bosses blame upgrade snafu
Traffic flows up 20% as motorway middle lanes miraculously unclog
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.