Involvement of organized crime
Given the value of devices and the gains to be made, reports suggest that sophisticated, organized crime is behind some of the larger-scale theft. The cost to phone-theft victims is considerable, as is the cost to the industry, with OEMs, MNOs, MNVOs, distributors, supply chain players and retailers all bearing the impact.
There is such a massive global market for stolen smartphones, that one company in the US accepted so many stolen iPhones and iPads (to ship overseas) it needed an armored truck to deliver the cash used to pay for them all.
Organised crime gangs appear to be are involved at various levels:
- Trafficking stolen devices in bulk to eastern Europe to be stripped of private information and reconditioned.
- Shipping stolen devices in bulk for sale in countries, such as Nigeria, where device blacklisting is not used.
- Stealing from the supply chain. Devices are being stolen while in transit from the manufacturer to the warehouse to the retailer.
- Stealing from retail stores, sometimes by insiders from “back of house” where devices are being prepped for sale.
Tackling the problem
Current measures designed to tackle the epidemic of smartphone theft are clearly not working. In Farrell’s Preventing phone theft and robbery: the need for government action and international coordination report, he states:
“The banning of stolen handsets from networks has been around for 20 years, but remains little used internationally. Where used, its effectiveness is hindered by implementation problems, reprogramming, easy fencing opportunities, and international trafficking. Kill-switches where the user remotely disables a handset and deletes data have potential but, if non-permanent, are likely to experience similar limitations.”
However, there is a solution to combat device-related crime: Trustonic’s Asset Lifecycle Protection Service (ALPS).
Trustonic has developed a holistic solution to tackle the on-device security issues that operators and others in the mobile ecosystem face. ALPS has been designed to combat smartphone theft, fraud, device trafficking and the issues of sold but not activated (SBNA) and activated but not used (ABNU) device exploitation.
ALPS is integrated directly into the device manufacturing process, so protection is in place from the moment devices are built and operational throughout their lifecycle. ALPS secures the device at its very core – in the CPU and modem firmware – giving operators and mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) a secure communication path to control the device’s modem to allow or restrict device communications.
Because ALPS prevents a stolen device from being unlocked, it effectively renders the device worthless thus removing the incentive to steal it. Nor can a locked device be used on another network, so even if a stolen device is shipped to another country that doesn’t subscribe to the GSMA’s blacklist, it cannot be activated on the network.
By implementing ALPS, operators can turn the tide on crime. That’s why ALPS is trusted by some of the largest operators and has been implemented on tens of millions of devices.
For more information about the solution visit https://www.trustonic.com/ALPS