UK Government

Home Office: Embargoed until 00:01 11 February 2010: New technologies unveiled to help protect Britain's 75 million mobile phone users from crime

Press Release   •   Feb 11, 2010 10:47 GMT

Three new design innovations to tackle mobile phone crime, including a device that locks a phone and alerts the owner if it is taken away from them, have been unveiled today.

The prototypes were developed by teams of designers and technology experts as part of the Mobile Phone Security Challenge, an initiative from the Home Office Design and Technology Alliance and the Design Council, with support and funding from the Technology Strategy Board.

The aim of the challenge was to protect mobile phone users from crimes such as mobile phone identity fraud, which rose by over 70 per cent in 2009, to make phones more secure and to prevent unauthorised use of mobiles for electronic 'contactless' payments, soon to be become widespread in the UK.

The solutions are:

* i-migo - a small device which the user keeps about their person. The i-migo sounds an alert and locks the handset if it is taken out of a set range - either through theft or loss. The i-migo also provides automated backup of important data using Bluetooth technology;

* The 'tie' solution - this electronically matches a handset to a SIM card and protects data stored on the handset with a password and encryption. If stolen, the handset cannot be used with another SIM and data such as saved passwords, browsed websites, and contacts cannot be accessed by criminals, who can use it to defraud victims, by hacking into online bank accounts; and

* TouchSafe - aimed at making "M-Commerce" transactions more secure by using a small card worn or carried by the user, who discreetly touches the phone to the card to enable the transaction. Touch Safe uses the same Near Field Communication (NFC) technology currently used by the Oyster travel card.

The three working prototypes will be on display from the 15 - 18 February at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the mobile industry's annual trade show. The Design and Technology Alliance and the Design Council will be calling for the industry to protect their customers by adopting these innovative security technologies. 

Home Office Minister Alan Campbell said:

"Overall crime has fallen since 1997 but as new technology creates new opportunities for the user it can also provide criminals with opportunities as well. This is where designing out crime can make a real difference and we are leading the way by using technology to protect the public.

"I believe the solutions developed by this challenge have the potential to be as successful as previous innovations like Chip and Pin, which reduced fraud on lost or stolen cards to an all time low, and would encourage industry to continue working with us and take them up."

Joe McGeehan, Alliance member and managing director, Toshiba Europe and director for communications research, Bristol University, said:

'With the rapid growth in mobile phone usage, and particularly the smart phone, more and more people are carrying sensitive information on their handsets thereby increasing their vulnerability to identity theft. It is essential that individuals have the ability to protect themselves against such crime. The Alliance has been encouraging the mobile communications industry to provide better, more user-friendly and innovative tools, for this purpose.

"The recent 'Challenge' was an initiative taken by the Alliance to bring top design organisations and high tech companies together to develop such tools."

The technologies were developed in consultation with experts from some of the biggest phone companies and manufacturers.

David Kester, Alliance member and chief executive, Design Council:

"It's about thinking smarter than criminals. Designers have provided innovations that are one step ahead; new phones are still desirable to consumers but they're useless to criminals if they're equipped with these new concepts. The technology behind each of these ideas provides UK companies with promising business opportunities."

David Bott, Alliance member and director of innovation programmes, Technology Strategy Board, said:

"The ability of the Technology Strategy Board to use its networks and stimulate collaboration between technology and design companies has been a very fruitful experience for all involved. With our goal of accelerating innovative products to market, we have been very pleased to fund this challenge."

Steve Babbage, security technologies manager and group chief cryptographer, Vodafone Group R&D, said:

"Security is likely to be an increasingly important issue for consumers in the coming years. These prototypes show real working solutions that could reduce mobile phone crime and make phone users, their identities, their sensitive data and their cash safer."

Jack Wraith, secretary of the Communications Crime Strategy Group, said:

"The telecommunications industry welcomes the innovative work that has and is being done by the Alliance Against Crime and the Design Council in making the operation of mobile phones a more secure experience for the consumer.

"The winning prototypes from the challenge demonstrate that design and security can go hand in hand."

Previous advances in technology have led to unexpected new forms of crime; email heralded the phenomenon of 'phishing', ATMs precipitated the new crime of 'card catching' and online banking gave rise to 'key logging', used by fraudsters to track the input of secret passwords and account numbers.

However, there are also many examples of technology being applied successfully to reduce crime - for example, British Crime Survey figures show theft of vehicles has reduced by 51 per cent since 1997 as a result of improved security being designed into the vehicle, and an evaluation of houses built to the Association of Chief Police Officer's Secured By Design (SBD) standards showed that these experience 26 per cent less crime than non SBD houses, and residents fear of crime is lower. The introduction of Chip and Pin has helped reduce fraud on lost or stolen cards to its lowest total since the industry began collating fraud loss figures in 1991.

To view the images that accompany this release please follow the link below:


1. Key facts:

* 228 mobile phones are reported stolen in the UK every hour;

* Mobile phone identity fraud rose by 74 per cent in the first half of 2009 according to the UK fraud prevention service CIFAS; and
* Contactless transactions in the UK are predicted to account for £151 billion by 2013.

The teams and their solutions will form part of the UK Trade and Investment stand at Mobile World Congress from 15-18 Feb in Barcelona.  It is here at the industry's most important global event that the mobile phone industry will be urged to take mobile phone security seriously. The event attracts over 50,000 mobile industry specialists each year.

The Design and Technology Alliance Against Crime is a group of experts in design, technology, business and crime who aim to get more companies to 'think crime' in developing products and services. The Alliance recognised the need for new technologies to protect the users of the increasingly sophisticated 'smart phones' from data-related fraud and theft, and instigated the £400K Mobile Phone Security Challenge, which was delivered by the Design Council and funded by the Technology Strategy Board.

Design Out Crime hopes to encourage the mobile industry to take crime and security issues seriously for their customers.

Judges and Expert panel members
• CHAIR: Simon Waterfall, Co-founder, POKE
• Joe McGeehan, Design and Technology Alliance Against Crime, Managing Director, Toshiba Research Lab and Professor of Communications and Engineering at the University of Bristol
• Steve Babbage, Security Technologies Manager & Group Chief Cryptographer, Vodafone Group R&D
• Mark Delaney, Director, Connect Design, Nokia
• Josh Dhaliwal, Co-founder, Mobile Youth
• Richard Martin, Business Security Consultant, APACS
• Dr. Walter Tuttlebee, Executive Director, Mobile VCE

2. Design Out Crime
Design Out Crime is an initiative from the Home Office's Design & Technology Alliance Against Crime and the Design Council. The Alliance is a group of highly respected experts from the worlds of design, industry and law enforcement and they work on developing solutions to a wide range of crime-related problems, particularly those which affect young people, including:

• Schools - finding and applying specific design solutions to reduce problems such as bullying, fighting and petty theft in schools;
• Hot products - developing innovations in technology, services and product design which help make personal electronics more 'crime-proof';
• Housing crime - embedding design-led crime reducing approaches in the planning and construction of housing;
• Alcohol-related crime - finding design-led approaches to reduce the harm caused by alcohol-related antisocial and criminal behavior, especially assaults in pubs and clubs; and
• Business crime - helping businesses to use design to minimize crimes such as shoplifting and other forms of retail theft.

For more information visit:

3. Design & Technology Alliance Against Crime
The Design & Technology Alliance Against Crime was established by the Home Office in 2007 and is tasked with bringing about innovation and encouraging others to 'think crime' in the first stages of design, planning and product development. It is comprised of ten experts from the world of design industry and law enforcement:

• CHAIR: Sebastian Conran, Managing Director of Studio Conran
• Joe McGeehan, Director of Centre for Communications Research, Bristol University and Managing Director of Toshiba Research Europe
• Sir John Sorrell, Chair of the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, and the Sorrell Foundation
• Jeremy Myerson, Helen Hamlyn Centre, Royal College of Art
• David Bott, Director of Innovation Programmes, Technology Strategy Board
• Lorraine Gamman, Professor of Design Studies, Central St Martins
• David Kester, Chief Executive, Design Council
• Michael Wolff, co-founder of brand consultancy Wolff Ollins
• Sir Paul Stephenson, Commissioner, Metropolitan Police
• Gloria Laycock, Director of UCL Centre for Security and Crime Science

4. Design Council
The Design Council is the national strategic body for design. Its mission is to inspire and enable the best use of design to make the UK a more competitive, creative and sustainable nation.

5. Technology Strategy Board
The Mobile Phone Security Challenge has been supported by the Technology Strategy Board's Network Security Innovation Platform with funding of £300,000. It has been managed through the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI), a new programme helping to match innovative solutions to specific government needs, by engaging a broad range of companies in competitions that result in short-term development contracts.

The Technology Strategy Board is a business-led executive non-departmental public body, established by the government. Its role is to promote and support research into and the development and exploitation of, technology and innovation for the benefit of UK business, in order to increase economic growth and improve quality of life. It is sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

For more information visit

6. M-Commerce
Trials of M-Commerce, where mobile phones permit contactless payments, are already advanced in many countries. In Japan mobiles are being used as house keys whilst in Germany supermarkets are trialling barcode scanning and automated payment using mobiles. In the UK, several financial institutions have recently announced trials of contactless payment using your phone, such as Visa 'payWave'. However, there is concern that the technologies involved in contactless payments - particularly Near Field Communications - could also open up new opportunities for data to be stolen, without your phone leaving your pocket. Phone cloning (or data interception; copying SMS, MMS, Bluetooth, Fi-Fi, email or internet transaction data in transit) could become a common issue.

7. Images
For images of the prototypes contact

8. Team contact details

Peter Phillips, director, rodd design limited
+44 (0)23 8028 2456, (0)7803 208822,

Dr Antony Rix, The Technology Partnership plc
44 (0)1763 262626, +44 (0)7811 352363

Saban Demirbasa, managing director, Data Transfer & Communications Limited
+44 (0)8455 82 83 84, +44 (0) 7968 353 045

Graham Lacy, technical director, PDD Group Ltd
+44 (0)20 8735 1111,

Neil Garner, founder & CEO, Proxama
+44 (0)1603 283 422, +44 (0) 7515 558111

Nick Field, Design Director, Minima
+44 (0)1728 727 000

9. For further information please contact:

Luke Horwill, Marketing & Communications Manager, Design Council: 020 7420 5263, 07964 186686,

Claire Cunningham, Media Relations Manager, Technology Strategy Board:
01793 442901, 07554 115 745,

Sam Eversden, Home Office Press Office


NDS Enquiries
Phone: For enquiries please contact the above department