At this year’s Google I/O event, Google announced that the upcoming L version of the Android operating system will feature a kill switch. This feature enables you to remotely lock a stolen or lost device, so no one can use it.
If you want the added security of a kill switch, without having to wait for Android L’s roll out, one option is to download avast!’s Anti-Theft app. Not only does this app include kill switch functionality, but it provides other security features, such as the ability to locate your missing device using GPS, and activating a siren, which will sound continuously from your stolen device at maximum volume. If you don’t expect to get your device back, you can at least protect your privacy, by using Anti-Theft to remotely wipe all data from your device.
Before you get started with Anti-Theft, there’s one quirk that can confuse newcomers. The Anti-Theft app is hidden by default, so thieves cannot easily change, disable or uninstall it.
This means you can’t launch the app in the normal way. Instead, you’ll need to place a phone call to your PIN number (so, if you set your app’s PIN to 1234, you need to call 1234). Anti-Theft launches before the call connects.
There are several versions of Anti-Theft and different subscriptions available too. This tutorial uses the free Anti-Theft (rooted) version.
For even more tutorials, make sure to check out the latest issue of Android Magazine.
Download Anti-Theft (rooted) from Google Play. Once the app has downloaded, launch it, read the user agreement and tap Agree. Make sure the Root Installation checkbox is selected and tap Continue. To make Anti-Theft even more difficult for a thief to identify, give the app a fake name. Tap Continue.
Once Anti-Theft has finished downloading your custom installer package, you’ll need to choose your root installation method. On most devices Direct Write Method should work, but if not, try Recovery Image Method. Reboot. Find and launch Anti-Theft – remember, the app will appear under its custom name!
Create your PIN
Enter your name and tap Continue. Create a PIN, then tap Continue. It’s common for thieves to swap a stolen phone’s SIM, so in the next step, you’ll prepare for this by nominating a telephone number to receive an SMS update, if Anti-Theft detects your device’s SIM has been changed.
Choose a contact
Enter a friend or family member’s number, or tap Phonebook and choose a contact. If someone changes your SIM, this person receives a message containing the new SIM’s phone number. Anti-Theft tries to locate your phone and will include a link to a map if it succeeds. Tap Continue.
At this point, you’ll need to create an avast! account. The easiest way is to tap Set up avast! account and follow the instructions. Then, return to the Anti-Theft app and choose your SMS settings. Make sure both Send SMS and Enable support are selected, then tap Continue.
To lock your device, you need to enable this feature in advance. In Anti-Theft, tap Advanced Settings, Protection Behaviour and select Lock phone. If your device goes missing, log in to your avast! account, select My Devices>View Details. Open the Choose command drop-down menu, select Lock and click Send.
If you don’t expect to get your device back, you can perform a factory reset. Note, this factory reset removes Anti-Theft, so you can no longer remotely access your device. This is another feature you need to enable in advance, so select Advanced settings>Lock text and tap Thorough wipe.
To perform a wipe, Anti-Theft needs to have device admin privileges. In the Lock text menu, tap Device admin and select the Anti-Theft box. When prompted, tap Activate. You now have the ability to remotely wipe your device by logging in to your avast! account, and sending the Wipe command.
You can also send commands via SMS, from any phone that supports SMS. SMS commands must begin with your PIN, followed by the command you want to execute. For example, if your pin is ‘1234’ and you were wiping your device, you’d text ‘1234 Wipe’ to your missing phone.