ST. LOUIS - Cell phone security is about to change and some say it may help save lives.
According to Consumer Reports, in 2012 1.6 million cell phones were stolen. Many of those crimes turned violent as in the case of former St. Louis University volleyball player Megan Boken, who was murdered in 2012 for her iPhone.
In 2013, the number of stolen phones nearly doubled to 3.1 million.
Since her murder, Boken's family has been fighting to get a "kill switch" in every smart phone. The idea behind the cell phone kill switch is to end cell phone crimes. The software would allow the owner of a stolen phone to remotely wipe all the data and lock it using a pass code only the owner knows. In theory, a thief can't sell a useless phone.
Starting in July 2015 new smart phones will be equipped with a kill switch. CTIA, the wireless association, says some of the phone makers and carriers that have agreed to the kill switch include Samsung, Apple, Sprint, Verizon and AT&T.
"We want to work as an industry to make it safe to use our products and services and really discourage thieves to take the violent action that we've seen," said John Sontag, President of AT&T Missouri.
Boken's family says this new agreement is the first step in the right direction, but it needs to go further.
Paul Boken, Megan's father, tells NewsChannel 5 he'd like to see the agreement include an opt-out provision, whereas a user would be asked whether he or she wants to activate the kill switch during the phone's initial setup.
"Under the current agreement users have to access the device's settings to activate the kill switch," said Boken.
Carriers say network security concerns will also have to be addressed. Sontag tells NewsChannel 5 a single program used as a kill switch across all smart phones could be vulnerable to hackers.
"They could essentially break into the program and shut down the entire mobile network across the country," he said.
He's advocating for individual programs and applications to be used across different devices.
"We have about 15 months really to discuss the best options and the way to proceed on this," said Sontag.
Paul Boken says regardless of the application, kill switches will save lives.
"If this system was in place Megan would still be with us today," he said.