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Microsoft Says Stolen Phone Rendered Useless

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 19 comments

Last week we learned that a phone loaded with prototype Microsoft software was pickpocketed from the coat of an unnamed executive at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

The phone in question was handed to Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo for testing purposes, who then gave the phone to someone else. That someone else 'lost track' of the phone at a party later that evening, meaning that an early version of Windows Mobile 6.5 is now somewhere in the wild.

Telstra did confirm that the phone was stolen, but Microsoft did not offer any comment on the matter. APC sources a “senior Microsoft staffer,” who spoke under terms of anonymity that Microsoft remotely wiped all the data from the device, including the flashy new user interface. The underlying operating system itself, however, remains on the stolen device, according to the story.

While there is a level of paranoia that Microsoft could reach out to any Windows Mobile 6.5 phone to wipe its data, the feature itself of remote wiping is one that is highly attractive for corporate applications. Businesses that store and transmit sensitive information using handheld devices demand a way to wipe the data from a given device should it be lost or stolen.

It seems that the stolen Windows Mobile 6.5 handset was, if nothing else, an early proof of remote wiping in action.

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  • -3 Hide
    jeffunit , February 24, 2009 12:14 PM
    It is good to know that american power corporation (APC) is on top of this. On the other hand, perhaps AP is what is meant in the article.

    Is anyone paid to proofread this?
  • 7 Hide
    wilburyan , February 24, 2009 12:28 PM
    This is NOT a new feature. Blackberries connected to a BES (Blackberry Exchange Server) also have this functionality.

    Windows Mobile 5 devices like the Palm 700wx or the Motorola Q can also be remotely wiped if they have been setup to use mobile exchange. Where I work... phones belonging to people who would have confidential information in their e-mail, have lost / misplaced their phones, and remotely wiping them as a security measure is common practice.
  • -2 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , February 24, 2009 12:43 PM
    zipzoomflyhighWhy would something top secret and confidential (to microsoft) be handed around and taken to a party??

    The best place to hide something is public. So the only problem really was the guy losing it - he ended up proving himself as a human
  • Display all 19 comments.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , February 24, 2009 12:44 PM
    zipzoomflyhigh - It´s so obvious that is just a marketing trick! Just see how much press they got over this "incident". Don´t let em fool ya! Heads up folks!
  • -1 Hide
    Greatwalrus , February 24, 2009 1:29 PM
    I get really sick of all of the grammar nazi's who comment on these news stories. Give it a break - we don't need to hear about mistakes you found in the article. Trolls.
  • 2 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , February 24, 2009 1:51 PM
    GreatWalrusI get really sick of all of the grammar nazi's who comment on these news stories. Give it a break - we don't need to hear about mistakes you found in the article. Trolls.

    What about trolls that complain about other trolls?
    Sometimes those grammar errors will lead to an incorrect interpretation of the material, and in those cases correcting them are essential. I don't care to read those comments bickering about a missing punctuation or such, but those where typos change the meaning are crucial to get underscored so chris or someone can fix them.
  • 8 Hide
    WheelsOfConfusion , February 24, 2009 1:54 PM
    GreatWalrusI get really sick of all of the grammar nazi's who comment on these news stories. Give it a break - we don't need to hear about mistakes you found in the article. Trolls.

    I think you meant to type "grammar Nazis." It's plural rather than possessive, and the N should be capitalized.
  • 1 Hide
    nekatreven , February 24, 2009 2:00 PM
    jeffunitIt is good to know that american power corporation (APC) is on top of this. On the other hand, perhaps AP is what is meant in the article. Is anyone paid to proofread this?


    Uh, no actually. If you'd taken a second and a half to click the link instead of just blindly commenting you'd see the site is called APC. I think they typed what they meant.

    I however am not yet tired of seeing writers getting poked at for valid spelling and grammar mistakes. Its a professional media group for crying out loud, they need to hear about it when it happens. Maybe they should put a button on each page for flagging that stuff so we can keep it out of the comments.
  • 0 Hide
    antilycus , February 24, 2009 2:28 PM
    i think it's great for the next employee that steals a corporate phone...
  • 0 Hide
    truehighroller , February 24, 2009 3:21 PM
    It seems that the stolen Windows Mobile 6.5 handset was, if nothing else, an early proof of remote wiping in action.




    Yeah, I think this was done on purpose now that this has been noted.
  • 0 Hide
    grieve , February 24, 2009 3:37 PM
    I think this is just free publicity... it was prolly never stolen.
  • 0 Hide
    hellwig , February 24, 2009 3:56 PM
    Was the remote data wiping a function of the phone OS, or the specific software installed (as wilburyan mentioned)? I'm fine if I have to be connected to a specific network (i.e. my employers), but if Microsoft can just erase phones willy-nilly, whats to stop a disgruntled ex-MS employee from wreaking havoc on a bunch of phones?
  • 0 Hide
    WheelsOfConfusion , February 24, 2009 4:39 PM
    What's to stop a disgruntled ex-employee from doing anything, really?
  • 1 Hide
    jerreece , February 24, 2009 6:58 PM
    "the feature itself of remote wiping is one that is highly attractive for corporate applications."

    That's probably why Obama gets to keep his Blackberry ;) 
  • 1 Hide
    liemfukliang , February 24, 2009 11:46 PM
    I rather like there is a small tpm chip. The device will always check the TPM before boot. And there is an auto self destruct TPM device. When the device is stolen we can remotely broke the TPM device. When the TPM is broke, the device will will make all the other hardware broke.

    What is the main motive / reason to stole a gadget? Usually money. The thief will sell the stolen gadget to market and get money. If we can make stolen device can't be sell, than the thief will be extrimly smaller.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , February 25, 2009 10:32 AM
    Hellwig, it was a Microsoft-owned phone connected to Microsoft's network, which is why they were able to wipe it remotely. This functionality has been built into Windows mobile for several years now. If your Windows Mobile device is configured to sync with corporate Exchange servers, then that company has the ability to remotely wipe a lost phone.
  • 0 Hide
    wilburyan , February 25, 2009 10:52 PM
    jerreece"the feature itself of remote wiping is one that is highly attractive for corporate applications."That's probably why Obama gets to keep his Blackberry


    Exactly... with a Blackberry all communication to and from the device is encrypted, they can enforce a policy requiring the user to have a password and enforce a timeout on the device, and even push down a policy that will make the phone wipe itself after a specified number of consecutive failed password attempts.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 4, 2009 1:49 PM
    "I rather like there is a small tpm chip. The device will always check the TPM before boot. And there is an auto self destruct TPM device. When the device is stolen we can remotely broke the TPM device. When the TPM is broke, the device will will make all the other hardware broke.

    What is the main motive / reason to stole a gadget? Usually money. The thief will sell the stolen gadget to market and get money. If we can make stolen device can't be sell, than the thief will be extrimly smaller." - liemfukliang
    Damn... Are you retarded? That made absolutely NO sense at all.
  • 0 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , March 6, 2009 5:29 AM
    @ ShyGuy1224 : It does make sense. It's just difficult to read, as his english is very poor.
    In essence he sais that, if owners can remotely destroy the functionality of a device once it's been stolen, chances are people won't bother stealing those devices in the first place.

    ofc it won't work, as the thieves will just get smarter and learn how to trick the system. They are still stealing the expensive cars with tracking systems in them after all too.