Jul 11, 2013

    Apps to save your phone from thieves

    The Star/Asia News Network

    LOSING a gadget is never a pleasant experience, but there are a few things one can do to ease the pain in the event of such a situation.

    The Google Play Store has a few apps that can help you recover an Android device or at least mitigate the loss.

    The app that seems most promising is the Cerberus Anti Theft ( app by Lsdroid.

    It comes with a free one-week trial, after which it will cost £2.99 (S$5.70) for a lifetime licence. The licence - tied to a user's Cerberus account - can be used on up to five devices concurrently.

    Cerberus gives users the option of connecting remotely to a device that has the app installed, via the Cerberus website. Viewing location and SMS history, recording audio, wiping out all data, and capturing images using either the back- or front-facing camera can all be done remotely.

    With the app, you can also set the front-facing camera to capture an image when the wrong lock-screen password is entered a preset number of times.

    What makes Cerberus different from other location-tracking apps I've tried is the SIM-checker feature, which makes the phone secretly SMS you and other selected numbers when an unauthorised SIM card is inserted into it. This is very useful, and even helped an acquaintance of mine in recovering his phone after he misplaced it.

    The app works even without an Internet connection. The beauty of it is that, even if a perpetrator has switched the SIM card, you will be informed of the number assigned to the new SIM card, thanks to the SIM-checker feature.

    If your Android device is rooted, Cerberus will be almost impossible to uninstall. The app can survive factory resets, too.

    An alternative to Cerberus is the popular Lookout Security & Antivirus ( app by Lookout Mobile Security. More commonly known for its anti-virus software, the app comes with a "Find my phone" feature as well.

    Users who have installed the app and registered for its services can log on with any Web browser to initiate a list of commands, similar to Cerberus.

    These include location tracking via Google Maps, activating a loud alarm even if the phone is set to silent mode and checking a device's last-known location before it was switched off.

    The app also has the capability to capture pictures and send them to your e-mail address when someone enters the wrong lock-screen password.

    If you are using the premium version, you can also lock your phone remotely or wipe your phone's data from the Lookout website.

    The writer is a full-time auditor and big-time gadget lover.