Filipino IT engineer writes Android anti-theft app

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Software Services Inc., Smart Communications Inc. and SUN have partnered to address the growing number of lost and stolen smartphones in the country.

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IT engineer Jun Lozada, better known as the NBN-ZTE whistleblower, said his company, Galileo Software, has developed a mobile phone anti-theft app: “Theft Apprehension and Recovery Application” or TARA.

For P50 a month, smartphone users can rest assured that their gadgets are safe with the application.

“What I know is that Smart will offer it for P50 per month. This is available to both prepaid and postpaid subscribers,” Lozada said.

“TARA will render a stolen smartphone unusable through a “kill-switch” feature that will prevent the mobile phone’s brain from functioning again,” Lozada told reporters.
The application will be available before the year end.

“This is still under user acceptance test, like from the technical standpoint you can use it for sending text message even if you have any load” Lozada noted.

“Because android is more than 90 percent, we made it a priority for what we call the most vulnerable sector those who commute,” Lozada added.

According to a 2014 National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) report, at least 30 smartphones are lost every day to pickpockets or thieves and are easily disposed of in the grey market and re-sold to private individuals.

“In most cases, there is a feeling of helplessness among those who lost their phones,” Lozada said.

There is a need to heighten the awareness of smartphone users on how to protect themselves from thieves, and ensure that important files and data can be preserved should they lose their phones.

The sense of helplessness may be alleviated if owners are aware that they can retrieve personal data by using the anti-theft app, Lozada said.

A stolen phone may be locked with a text message, or by calling a call center to have the phone deactivated. TARA makes the gadget useless even if the SIM card is replaced, or the memory is reformatted, he said.

The revolutionary app may help the Philippines break into the tightly-closed tech industry sectors once the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) integration is in full swing, Lozada noted.

The app is a Philippine invention and is non-existent in any other Asian country.
“It could turn the Philippines into a winner when the ASEAN Economic Community kicks in,” he said.

The TARA app could give the Philippines an advantage in the free flow of goods and services in the tech services sector.

”The Philippines virtually has nothing to send outside to other Asean countries, except labor, while goods and services from these countries flow into ours,” Lozada said.
Lozada has worked in key management positions at IBM and Alcatel.

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