Smartphones and tablets are stolen every day, often from pockets, bags and from tables in bars and restaurants. A call to the police is a mere formality for insurance purposes usually, resulting in a new phone – if you’re lucky.
There are various apps and services available that can assist with tracking your phone, but the downside of these is that a savvy thief (let’s face it, that’s most of them) will know how to uninstall the app, preventing you from tracking it or using the device camera to identify the culprit.
They don’t even have to go that far – disabling data transfers will block attempts to find the purloined phone or tablet.
What you need is a smartphone security app that isn’t at the whim of data connections and can’t be uninstalled… an app like Cerberus!
Available for €2.99 after a free one-week trial, Cerberus is your best chance of recovering your stolen device. It can be installed as a standard app, as a hidden, “system” process or even flashed to incorporate into your system ROM, meaning that Cerberus cannot be removed.
That option is impressive, but even better is the facility to communicate with your phone using silent SMS messages, enabling remote control and tracking options that would otherwise be unavailable.
Cerberus is easy to install, simple to use and it might prove vital when you need it most.
Three Ways to Install
There are three ways to install Cerberus, which is available from Google Play, Amazon Appstore and from the developer’s website, www.cerberusapp.com. You can choose between a standard APK file, a hidden version that disguises itself in the Manage Applications screen and a flashable ZIP that integrates Cerberus into your ROM.
Installing Standard Cerberus
The standard version can be installed from Google Play, or it can be downloaded direct from the website and installed on your Android as long as the Settings > Security > Unknown Sources option is ticked. After launching you can create your Cerberus account, which is free for seven days.
Hide Cerberus from Unauthorized Users
If you’re concerned about Cerberus being spotted and disabled, you can download the hidden Cerberus_disguised.APK version, which runs as “System Framework” in the Manage Applications screen. Alternatively, use the Hide from app drawer option in the Cerberus web console, which will hide the app from view on your phone.
Full Security: Flash Cerberus!
For the ultimate security against thieves spotting Cerberus and uninstalling, users with root access can flash the app with a preferred recovery utility (such as ClockworkMod, TWRP, etc.). This integrates Cerberus into your phone’s ROM, making it impossible for a thief to uninstall it. A hidden version is also available.
Configuring Cerberus On Your Device
You will need to enable Cerberus via the app settings screen where you can also toggle remote wipe options, determine how photos are taken following failed unlocks and change your password. Meanwhile the SIM checker option ensures your phone can be tracked even if the SIM card is changed.
Remote Control Options Explained
After installation and the creation of your account, you can sign into the Cerberus website to investigate the options. Here you will find a Google Map, with a menu in the top-left corner to help track your phone. All options are available here, initiated by clicking the Send command button.
Locate and Track Your Android
So, how would you go about tracking your Android? Simply select the Start tracking option and click Send command, an action that will display your phone on the Google Map. The Get location history option, meanwhile, will show you where your phone has been since tracking was enabled.
Offline Remote with SMS
Being able to track your phone is great, but depends on your phone been online. What if the thief has disabled the data connection? Simple – from another phone, send the command: cerberus password enabledata, where “password” is your Cerberus account password. All SMS commands are listed on the Cerberus website.
Protect Android: Wipe Your Data
There are various steps you can take to protect your personal data from theft via Cerberus. You might, for instance, use the Lock with code command, specifying a password, or you might rely on the Wipe device memory or Wipe SD card options. SMS wipe commands are also available.
Record Audio and Snap Photos
Cerberus also allows you to take photos, video and record audio of your Android’s thief. The Take picture, Capture video and Record audio options also have SMS alternatives and should help identify your thief. It might not stop your phone being stolen, but Cerberus can certainly help in its retrieval.