One of the most frequent questions I receive is what to do when a phone is lost or stolen. The short (and simple) answer to that query is to prepare for the eventuality. That means either setting up your device via the Google Device Manager or another, similar type of service. If you don't take this one (mostly) easy step, you might well find yourself out of luck.
With that in mind, I want to introduce you to another anti-theft service, Cerberus. This app/service isn't free (there's a one week trial... after that, it'll cost you 4.99 EUR). Once you take a look at this service, you'll quickly realize that it's worth every penny.
- Locate and track your device
- Tell you how much battery remains on the device
- Lock the device
- Set off an alarm at full volume (even if the device is set to silent mode)
- Display a message that stays on the screen (and also make your device speak the message)
- Take pictures, screenshots and even record videos, to identify possible theft
- Get the location history of the lost/stolen device
- Wipe the internal memory and the SD card
- Hide Cerberus from the app drawer
- Record audio from the microphone
- Get a list of last calls sent and received
- Get information about cell phone network and Wi-Fi network the device is using
- Start a remote shell to execute commands
Cearly, this isn't your average anti-theft app/service—Cerberus means business.
Let's install this and find out how you can use it to find your device.
The installation of Cerberus is quite simple. Just follow these steps:
- Open the Google Play Store on your Android device
- Search for Cerberus
- Locate and tap the Cerberus anti-theft entry by LSDroid
- Tap Install
- Read the permissions listing
- If the permissions listing is acceptable, tap Accept
- Allow the installation to complete
You can now launch the app from the app drawer. When you do, you'll need to create an account with Cerberus. Tap the Create Cerberus account button (Figure A) and fill in the required information.
Running Cerberus on a Verizon-branded HTC M8.
The last thing you must do, upon first run, is enable the device admin. When prompted (Figure B), tap the Enable device admin button so certain features (such as remote wipe and lock with password) will work.
Enabling device admin for Cerberus.
After you tap Enable device admin, you'll have to tap the ACTIVATE button (when prompted) to enable admin rights. Do this, and Cerberus is ready to go.
The nice thing about Cerebus is that, once it's installed and associated with your Cerberus account, it's ready to go. You can then log into the Cerebus portal and manage your device. From the Cerberus dashboard, you'll find a Command drop-down (Figure C).
The Cerberus Command drop-down.
This extensive list of commands allows you to do pretty much everything you need (including lock and/or wipe the device, sound an alarm, start/stop emergency mode, take a picture/video, and much more).
If you want to dive in a bit deeper, log into the Cerberus app (using the same credentials used to get into the web-based dashboard) and then swipe right (from the left edge of the screen) to open the sidebar. Here you can get to the main configuration, AutoTask configuration, authorize a wearable device, and more. One thing you might want to immediately take care of is to authorize other numbers that will receive alerts from Cerberus. To do this, follow these steps:
- Open Cerberus and log in
- Swipe to open the side bar
- Tap SIM checker
- In the Numbers that will receive alerts section (Figure D), enter the number(s) you want to enable
Adding numbers to receive alerts.
Yes, you can dive into much more with Cerberus, but the truth of the matter is that what we want and need is the means to locate and/or protect our device data from theft. Cerberus might well be the single best solution for that task.
Pay this particular piper... you won't regret a single penny spent.
What mobile recovery solution do you currently employ? Let us know in the discussion thread below.
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Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.