Google turns to AI to guard customers from cell phone thefts

May 15, 2024 | blog

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Google mentioned it could use synthetic intelligence to detect when Android smartphones have been snatched and rapidly lock the display screen, as know-how teams transfer to guard delicate knowledge amid reviews of rising cell phone theft.

The Silicon Valley big introduced on Wednesday its new “theft prevention lock”, powered by Google AI, which shall be activated if the gadget detects “a common motion associated with theft” — similar to if a thief takes a cellphone from an proprietor’s hand and makes an attempt to run, cycle, or drive away with it.

The measure is a part of Google’s efforts to scale back incentives for criminals to steal telephones as a way to revenue from the delicate monetary data and private knowledge saved on cell units, in addition to the worth of the bodily handset.

The function shall be rolled out later this 12 months to units operating later Android working programs.

British police are coping with the best recorded stage of “theft from the person” offences in 20 years, in response to the newest official figures for England and Wales. Incidents of the crime — through which objects are taken from folks with out the risk or use of violence, usually via pickpocketing or snatching — rose 18 per cent in 2023.

One in three objects stolen on this method is a cell phone, in response to knowledge from the nationwide Crime Survey.

Apple rolled out its personal antitheft options in its Stolen Device Protection replace earlier in 2024.

The replace to iOS was designed to stop thieves from making essential safety modifications, similar to accessing saved passwords and bank cards and altering an Apple ID. The function works even when a passcode is stolen, because it implements extra safety necessities if a person’s iPhone is in an unfamiliar location.

Apple’s extra measures embrace requiring biometric authentication — with no fallback passcode choice — and, in some instances, introducing an hour-long time lag for necessary safety actions.

Google’s newest upgrades to Android additionally embrace extra layers of safety earlier than permitting customers to vary delicate settings, reset a tool following an entire manufacturing unit reset and disable location monitoring.

The firm mentioned requiring gadget or Google account credentials to reset a cell phone following a manufacturing unit reset would make a stolen cellphone “unsellable” and delay criminals.

The new measures additionally embrace a chosen “private space” — locked with a separate PIN — to supply additional safety for apps containing delicate private knowledge. It is already attainable for Android house owners to make use of third-party providers to lock particular person apps with a PIN.

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