One of the more crucial elements of owning a smartphone is security. Of course, security doesn't just lie in the hands of platform developer — it's also the responsibility of the device owner. Why? People lose phones. You hear tales of it all the time, and sometimes those tales are laden with woes of "My company's data is on that device!" What do you do to prevent this kind of situation from happening to you?
Simple — you install an app like Android Lost. With this (and others like it), you can remotely control your Android either via a website or SMS. Here are several things you can do with the Android Lost tool:
- Read sent and received SMS messages
- Wipe phone
- Lock phone
- Erase SD card
- Locate by GPS or network
- Start alarm with flashing screen
- Send SMS from web page
- Message pop-up
- Forward calls
- Phone status: battery, imei, etc.
- Remote SMS alarm
- Remote SMS lock and unlock
- Remote SMS erase SD card
- Remote SMS wipe phone
- Remote SMS APN control
- Start/stop GPS
- Start/stop Wi-Fi
- Hide from launcher
- Email when SIM card is changed
- Get call list
- Take picture with front camera
- Take picture with rear camera
- Make your phone speak with text-to-speech
- SMS message command
- SMS speak command
- Lock timeout
- Restore settings on boot
- Record sound from microphone
- Start and stop data connection from SMS
- Start and stop Wi-Fi connection from SMS
That's a fairly complete list of what you might want to do with a remote management app. Of course, the most important items in the feature list aid you in locating or wiping the data from a lost device. Let's install Android Lost and see how it's used.
Getting Android Lost on your device is quite simple. Just follow these steps:
- Open the Google Play Store on your device
- Search for Android Lost
- Locate and tap the entry for Android Lost by Theis Borg
- Tap Install
- Read the permissions listing carefully
- If the permissions listing is acceptable, tap Accept
- Allow the installation to complete
Now that you have the app installed, you'll find a launcher on your home screen or in the app drawer (or both). Tap it to launch the app, and it will require you to grant Administrator rights to proceed (Figure A).
Running Android Lost on a Verizon-branded HTC M8.
When you tap Request Administrator rights, you'll then have to tap the Activate button. If you do not Activate this, Android Lost will not be able to remotely administer your device. Tap Activate, and you're done. From the main Android Lost screen, tap the menu button, and then tap Security level. Next, tap the Exit button, and you're ready to start.
Before you can do anything with your device, you must go to the Android Lost website and log on with your Google credentials. Click the Sign In link and then (once authenticated) click the Allow button. Now, you're ready to remotely manage your device.
From the Android Lost website, you can do everything necessary. One of the first things you should do is set up an SMS Allow phone number. With this number, you can send SMS commands to your device. To set this up, do the following:
- Once logged into the Android Lost website, select the phone to be managed in the upper right drop-down (above your email address)
- Click the the SMS tab (Figure B)
- Enter the 10 digit number (not the number of the phone being managed) to be allowed (under SMS Allowed)
- Click the Allow button
The Android Lost management console.
At this point, you can work Android Lost magic from the website and send commands from the phone number that you set up.
Remotely managing your phone from the website is simple. Just select the Controls tab, and then click on the sub-tab that contains the action you want. For example, to remotely wipe your device, do the following:
- Select the Controls tab
- Click on the Security sub-tab
- Scroll down to the bottom
- Click Wipe Phone (you can opt to wipe external storage as well)
- Click Wipe again in the resulting pop-up
If you need to manage the phone via another phone, you can send an SMS command in the form of:
That particular command will wipe the device. To get a full listing of the SMS commands, go to the Android Lost website, click on SMS, and scroll down to see list of available SMS commands.
If you're looking for yet another third-party tool to remotely cleanse your device of its data or help locate the device, give Android Lost a try — and enjoy the idea that you can keep your data out of nefarious hands.
Do you use a third-party tool for such levels of security? If so, what is your tool of choice? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.
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.