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Is there any way to prevent a factory reset, like password protection? I would basically like to protect my phone from resetting if it gets stolen.

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I'm doubtful this is possible... as they say "physical access is root access", if they physically have your device they will most likely be able to get around any measures that protect it. –  Bryan Denny Jan 31 '12 at 18:48
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Even if you somehow render the phone useless to a thief, I doubt you're going to get it back. –  Nick T Feb 3 '12 at 19:38
    
You will always be able to get ADB access to the device if you have physical access by going into recovery mode, which means that no, you can't stop someone from doing a factory reset. –  pzkpfw Feb 15 '13 at 13:21
    
I've actually contacted Samsung about the fact you can still factory reset devices even when there encrypted, they said they would let the "hire up" security team know. Otherwise, just dont lose your phone or anyone could reset it like its new! –  user53077 Feb 7 '14 at 19:08
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I would assume that it's by design. The encryption is there to protect your private data not to brick your device in case you've lost the encryption passphrase. –  Flow Feb 8 '14 at 0:14

4 Answers 4

Not possible on any stock recoveries that I have seen. A custom recovery would be needed for something like this, although there would be nothing preventing someone from flashing a different Recovery that doesn't have password protection.

Honestly though, factory resetting your device is probably the best thing a thief can do, since this wipes your personal data (at least the portion that's stored on the phone's internal memory.)

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"Device Protection" or "Factory Reset Protection" added in Android 5.1 can prevent your device from being usable by a thief even if they factory reset it. Essentially, it keeps the device locked after a factory reset until you enter the Google Account credentials that were on it before the factory reset, locking out the thief (unless they know your account password). See this article for more details.

Note that if your bootloader is unlocked, or if you have the "Enable OEM unlock" developer option checked in Settings, the thief may be able to flash a ROM and evade this protection. Note also that it does not preserve the Android Device Manager, so this is merely to deter/frustrate thieves and not to help you retrieve your device.

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I believe it's possible to protect your phone from the hard reset in case it's stolen from you or something related to that.

I would recommend avast! Mobile Security for your mobile phone. It contains a lot of features including the "anti theft" provision. In case your phone is stolen, you can remotely control it using other phone numbers. You can also activate the hard reset protection on your phone and thieves won't be able to activate the hard reset or factory reset on your phone. You can also decide how your phone should behave after the SIM has been changed. For example, the app can close all access to the phone settings, hence closing all acts of trying the factory reset and the hard reset protection simply recovers all data if a hard reset is attempted.

It has worked for me, and I have recovered my Android phone twice now.

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Partially correct, read the answer provided by Chahk (wrote 13 months earlier). Also check out Matthew's answer. Your solution is merely an app installed in userspace, read the comments by Firelord in response to user52240's answer. –  HasH_BrowN May 12 at 19:02

Apart from using the Anti-virus which might or might not work, I think you should try applications that can protect certain area of your Android while allowing access to some.I use applock to protect access to my messages and gallery, I think you could also use this application to lock access to settings that lead to factory reset.I think that's the only way for now.There are other applications too that can work much better if you do some research.

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But this app will work only when the system is running. You can still go into Recovery and do the reset, thereby removing the app itself as well. Of course, if this app or any other (for that matter) uses encryption on the files, then reset from recovery won't do any good for thief to recover the data. –  Firelord May 12 at 15:30
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Also, as mentioned clearly by OP that the situation is when the device gets stolen. The thief doesn't have to be tech-savvy. Go to some local phone repair shop and ask there to flash the OS. (If the device is a typical Mediatek phone, then all your app security measures will fail against "SP Flash Tool". ) –  Firelord May 12 at 15:35
    
@Firelord Great comments, +1 on that second comment. –  HasH_BrowN May 12 at 19:03

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