Citizens Crime Commission of New York City

A non-partisan non-profit organization working to make criminal justice
and public safety policies and practices more effective through innovation,
research, and education.

INITIATIVE: Cybercrime Prevention
Secure Our Smartphones (S.O.S.)

Following a troubling rise in smartphone theft in New York City and nationwide, resulting in 1.6 million Americans being victimized in 2012 alone, the Crime Commission became a founding member of the Secure Our Smartphones Initiative, a coalition organized by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón to urge the smartphone industry to protect the safety of consumers. As a founding member, the Crime Commission participated in joint meetings with the Attorney General and District Attorney, recruited NYPD Commissioner Bratton to the cause, and conceived the group's legislative strategy.

Progress was quick. Within a few months of the June 2013 S.O.S. launch, Apple introduced its "Activation Lock" in response to pressure from the coalition and others. In June 2014, we again joined AG Schneiderman and DA Gascón to announce that Google and Microsoft would install a kill switch in their new mobile operating systems. Within one year, the three dominant smartphone operating systems — Google's Android, Apple's iOS, and Microsoft's Windows Phone — that currently encompass 97% of smartphones in the United States, each implemented or planned to implement a kill switch.

Less than one year after the Crime Commission helped launch the Secure Our Smartphones Initiative, more than 100 elected representatives and officials around the country and abroad signed on to the coalition. In March 2014, the Crime Commission joined AG Schneiderman and U.S. Rep. Jose Serrano to unveil a bill mandating each new phone include a "kill switch", which would allow victims of smartphone theft to remotely disable their phones—making them useless to thieves, and pointless to steal.

The introduction of the kill switch has had a dramatic impact on smartphone robberies both in the U.S. and the U.K. From January 2013 to December 2014, the NYPD recorded a 16% overall drop in cell phone robberies, including a 25% drop in iPhone robberies—the first phone to adopt a kill switch. During that same time period, San Francisco recorded a 27% overall drop in cell phone robberies, and a 40% decrease in iPhone robberies. London has recorded a similar decline in smartphone crime. Comparing the 12 months prior to October 2013 with the 12 months prior to October 2014, smartphone thefts from persons dropped 40% and personal robberies of smartphones (crimes involving violence or the threat of violence) declined 38% in the year after kill switches were introduced. In London, the monthly average for the number of phones stolen has halved since September 2013 — resulting in 20,000 fewer victims annually. [NYAG]

In August 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law requiring all smartphones sold in the Golden State after July 1, 2015 to include this technology on an opt-out basis. The industry has said that they will not be rolling out a California specific phone. They have indicated that all smartphones sold in the United States will meet the requirements established by the California law. [NYAG]

Through the S.O.S. initiative advocates, lawmakers, and law enforcement representatives were able to develop a strategy for manufacturers and carriers to implement to deter crime, eliminate the secondhand market for stolen mobile devices and prevent further victimization.

Cybercrime Pages
» Overview
» What is Cybercrime?
» How to Protect Yourself from Ransomware
» How to Protect Your Organization from Cybercrime
» Secure Our Smartphones (S.O.S.)
» Predictive Prevention Lab
» Getting Your Feet Wet - Learning to Detect
Phishing Emails

Media & Resources
» New Report! How Human Behavior and Decision
Making Expose Users to Phishing Attacks

Visit the Internet Crime Complaint Center

Security Information For Businesses

Cybercrime Terms
Adware: A computer program used to track users' online activities and deliver targeted pop-up ads to users.

Bitcoins: Uninsured digital currency, also known as "cryptocurrency," which operates independently of central banks. It is used for peer-to-peer electronic transactions and transfers.

Botnet: A collection of private computers that have been infected with malware and are being controlled by a cyber criminal without the owner being aware. Criminals will likely use botnets to send out spam messages, spread viruses, and commit fraud.

Computer Worm: A malware that replicates itself over a computer network and usually performs malicious actions such as damaging data, or using up the computer's resources and possibly shutting the computer down.

Denial-of-service (DoS): An attacker attempts to prevent legitimate users from accessing information or services. Typically, a network server is bombarded with authentication requests; the attack overwhelms the resources of the target computers, causing them to deny server access to other computers making legitimate requests.

Encryption: The process of encoding data or confidential information so that it is not easily understood by those who are not permitted access to it.

Firewall: A computer security program that blocks incoming network traffic and screens for hackers, viruses and worms that try to reach your computer over the Internet. Users should make sure that firewalls are enabled on all their network devices.

Keylogger: A type of spyware that records every keystroke of the user and reports this information back to its source.

Malware: Short for "malicious software." It consists of viruses, worms, spyware, Trojan horses and botnets that become installed on computers, Internet of Things or mobile devices without consent. Malware is often used to steal private information, send spam messages, and commit online fraud.

Phishing: A type of cybercrime in which individuals deceive others by posing as legitimately established enterprises (your bank, government agencies, the FBI, employer) as to steal users' valuable personal information, such as account data and credit card information.

Proxy Server: A proxy server is an intermediary between your PC or device and the Internet. This server makes requests to websites, servers and services on the Internet for you. Cyber criminals use proxies to route their communications through several different locations or even countries. Because of this, it can be quite an exhausting challenge to track down cyber criminals.

Ransomware: A type of malware that prevents or limits users from accessing their system. This type of malware forces its victims to pay the ransom through certain online payment methods in order to grant access to their systems, or to get their data back.

Spyware: A type of malware that is self-installed on a computer and can be used to collect personal information about users without their knowledge.

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