Loosing your moko

Tim Newsom cephdon at gmail.com
Fri Apr 4 17:58:26 CEST 2008

All of this also pre-supposes that the phone is somewhere that gps can actually function.  You might also consider using cell tower location (i can't remember what its called) to at least get a general area. I saw a demo of this concept in the moble google maps application.

Another way to prevent your secret data from being stolen off the phone would be to implement something like a web services based storage provider. The os could use it like a relatively slow file sytem, over an encrypted link and cache it locally and temporarily. Have it sync periodically and auto wipe if the wrong password is entered at boot or waking up from sleep / etc. No loss of data except what may have been changed since the last sync before you lost it. Shouldn't be that hard to implement. Obviously its not for everyone, lack of a flat rate or 'unlimited' plan would make it unsuitable. There is probably no universal solution.


-----Original Message-----
From: Sean Anderson <keep.brain.from.freezing at gmail.com>
Sent: Friday, April 04, 2008 7:45 AM
To: List for Openmoko community discussion <community at lists.openmoko.org>
Subject: Re: Loosing your moko

It's certainly prudent to realise that this is far from a full-proof
phone theft prevention system. I realise it's a little redundant to say
"aaw, but no security is airtight anyway!", but it's worth pointing out

Encrypted data, a device that phones home... these are all flawed but
noticeable barriers for the potential thief. It is also worth noting
that the data stored on a phone like the Moko (emails, passwords, ssh
keys) is significantly more valuable than the type of data stored on
ordinary cellphones at the moment ("hey, how r u? <3" x 500, some
pictures of people being hit by bins) so it is more important that the
owners of the devices, and the developers, think more seriously about
how to protect the valuable data that is being stored.

The Moko has the hardware and the flexibility, so I doubt it would be a
great deal of trouble to implement a little GPS app that phones home
when it gets lost. 

My main point: the system may also be useful if the user has simply
misplaced the phone and would like to find out if they've left it at a
friend's house or at the pub. GPS is getting accurate enough to
determine which area of the house it is in. It could eliminate the
possibility of it being stolen if it turns up in a familiar location.
How is the Moko user going to tell if they have dropped their phone on
the train and it is sitting unclaimed at the lost & found depot of the
train station? GPS, of course :)


On Fri, 2008-04-04 at 12:43 +0200, Alexey Feldgendler wrote:
> On Fri, 04 Apr 2008 07:35:17 +0200, Michele Renda  
> <michele.renda at gmail.com> wrote:
> > When I steal the phone, the first thing that I will do is to turn off  
> > the phone. Then because I am afraid to be detected by cell I will change  
> > the internal sim, before to turn on it.
> This is also what happens in Russia. The majority of cell phones are  
> stolen or robbed of people by junkies. They immediately turn the phone off  
> and throw away the SIM card. Without turning the phone on, they bring  
> several phones they've collected during the night to a buyer-up who pays  
> them maybe a tenth of what the phone is worth, and that's enough for them  
> to get their needle.
> The bulk of stolen phones then goes to some phone repair workshops who run  
> an underground business of preparing them to be sold. They reflash the  
> phone or reset it to a clean state because nobody wants to sell a phone  
> with someone's data on it that would be crying out loud “I'm a stolen  
> phone”. They also unlock it if it's locked to an operator, and change the  
> IMEI in those models where it's possible. The next stop for a stolen phone  
> is a second hand mobile phone shop whose owner allegedly has no idea that  
> the phones that strange people bring, a whole box of them at a time, are  
> in fact stolen.
> Because rampant mobile phone theft brings them to the second hand market  
> where they are priced for less than half of what they're worth, it makes  
> them affordable to people who would otherwise not be able to buy a phone.  
> Of course, this happens at the expense of those people from whom the  
> phones are stolen, and who usually buy themselves a new one. Because of  
> this situation, the cell operators in Russia are reluctant to use the IMEI  
> (which is often impossible to change) to track down or at least deny  
> service to phones reported as stolen -- that would shrink their own market.

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