Innovations to tackle mobile fraud

Three new innovations to tackle mobile phone crime have been announced
by the Home Office, including a device that locks the phone and alerts
the owner if it is taken away from them.

Feb 25, 2010
By Paul Jacques

Three new innovations to tackle mobile phone crime have been announced by the Home Office, including a device that locks the phone and alerts the owner if it is taken away from them.

The prototypes were developed by teams of designers and technology experts as part of the Mobile Phone Security Challenge, an initiative from the Home Office Design and Technology Alliance and the Design Council.

With the aim of protecting mobile phone users from crimes such as mobile phone identity fraud – which rose by over 70 per cent in 2009 – and making phones more secure to prevent unauthorised use of mobiles for electronic ‘contactless’ payments, soon to be become widespread in the UK, the solutions put forward were:

•i-migo – a small device which the user keeps about their person. The i-migo sounds an alert and locks the handset if it is taken out of a set range – either through theft or loss. The i-migo also provides automated back-up of important data using Bluetooth technology

•The ‘tie’ solution – this electronically matches a handset to a SIM card and protects data stored on the handset with a password and encryption. If stolen, the handset cannot be used with another SIM card and data such as saved passwords, browsed websites and contacts cannot be accessed by criminals, who could use it to defraud victims by hacking into online bank accounts

•TouchSafe – aimed at making ‘m-commerce’ transactions more secure by using a small card worn or carried by the user, who discreetly touches the phone to the card to enable the transaction. Touch Safe uses the same Near Field Communication (NFC) technology currently used by the Oyster travel card.

The Design and Technology Alliance and the Design Council will be calling for the industry to protect their customers by adopting these innovative security technologies.  

Home Secretary Alan Campbell said: “Overall crime has fallen since 1997, but as new technology creates new opportunities for the user, it can also provide criminals with opportunities as well. This is where designing out crime can make a real difference and we are leading the way by using technology to protect the public.

“I believe the solutions developed by this challenge have the potential to be as successful as previous innovations, like chip-and-PIN – which reduced fraud on lost or stolen cards to an all-time low – and would encourage industry to continue working with us and take them up.”

Secretary of the Communications Crime Strategy Group, Jack Wraith, said: “The telecommunications industry welcomes the innovative work being done by the Alliance Against Crime and the Design Council in making the operation of mobile phones a more secure experience for the consumer.”

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