Set pins on all new phones as standard, police tell mobile makers

The Metropolitan police have asked mobile manufacturers to set pins as standard on new phones in a bid to reduce the number of unlocked phones in use in the UK and deter thieves.

The Metropolitan police are urging the likes of Apple and Samsung to ship phones with preset pins.

According to technology news site The Register, the Met's National Mobile Phone Crime Unit (NMPCU) believe that by phones coming with pins set as default, it'll encourage the masses to set a unique security number to unlock their handsets.

A spokesman told The Register: "We are trying to get [passwords] to be set as a default on new phones, so that when you purchase it you will physically have to switch the password off, rather than switch it on."

Apparently, the NMPCU's been discussing the issue with phone makers and the government for two years now, and the idea's gaining a 'lot of traction'.

It's certainly an idea with some appeal - research done by the NMPCU found that as many as 60% of handsets are left without a password. That means, if a thief filches the hardware, they have access to tons of personal information, potentially including bank details, as well as access to social media accounts and so on.

Presetting pins is just one way that mobile phone theft can be reduced. Other schemes, such as Apple's Activation Lock, which makes an iPhone completely unusable without entering an authorised Apple ID, have also been hailed as positive steps to cutting phone-related crime.

Norman Baker, the UK's minister for crime prevention, said: "The mobile phone industry and police already have arrangements in place to block stolen phones, which stop them being re-used in this country and reduces their value. We have also launched an online advice service to help people make the most of their phone's security feature.

"But we recognise that more can be done and mobile phone technology is changing all the time, which is why we will continue to work with industry and the police to improve security."

Ultimately though, the responsibility for making sure data is secure is on you. Leaving your phone unlocked isn't just unwise - it's stupid, so make sure you use security features like pins. You could also go the extra mile and download a free tracking app like Find My iPhone so you can remotely lock you phone and erase data from it if you are unlucky enough to have it swiped.

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