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I recently lost my android phone, and regretted not having a remote wipe app installed. However, I do not trust 3rd party compiled apps with such power (too many weak links).

Does anyone know of an existing open source app to do a remote wipe?

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migrated from superuser.com Feb 17 '11 at 17:11

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Dev questions and soliciting are offtopic. I've modified your question to just be asking about an existing solution. –  Matthew Read Feb 17 '11 at 17:15
    
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Are you asking about wiping the phone that you lost, or is this for any future phone? –  Chance Feb 8 '12 at 18:04

5 Answers 5

up vote 11 down vote accepted

For non-rooted phones. Up until 2.1 it is not possible. Regular apps do not have the permission to perform full wipes or factory restores. I believe there are apps that erase your call/sms records and your contacts.
Starting with 2.2, it seems Google is granting limited root powers to apps that use Device Administration. It is supposedly a way for enterprises to policy their employee's phones, and requires an extra confirmation by the owner. But I believe it could be used by anyone writing an app. In fact, the code for wiping seems so simple that I think you could write an open-source app yourself if you have some programming background. ;-)

For rooted phones. There are remote wipe apps, but I don't believe any of them is open source (that I've heard of). Remote Wipe for root users is possibly the simplest one, and it's in the market, but I've never tried it myself. This app is no longer on the market.

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@bruce-connor: I do not see why this should require root. The dev page at [developer.android.com/guide/topics/admin/device-admin.html] does not seem to state that requirement. –  Animesh Feb 18 '11 at 13:03
    
@Animesh: You're right. It seems Google is granting some extra power to these Device Admin apps, by allowing them to run functions that were previously system only. I guess I'm just stuck in the past with my 2.1 phone =) –  Malabarba Feb 18 '11 at 15:01
    
It looks like this app has been removed from the play store. –  Sepero Nov 20 '12 at 11:35

If the need for an open source app is purely down to your lack of trust in opaque, pre-compiled apps, then there are remote wipe apps that you don't need to keep permanently installed on your phone, but you can just push-install from the Market when needed. This way you would only need to have the app installed on the phone for seconds before it's wiped.

Some options for that are in this previous question Is there any way to erase personal information from my phone that has already been stolen?

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Kaspersky Security does some remote locking and other things like location.

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AFAIK this is not open source. –  Matthew Read Jan 1 '12 at 20:51

Without question the security best app that also does remote wiping is Cerberus. I reviewed Cerberus and a bunch of other security apps some little while ago, and haven't seen anything to change my opinion yet.

Short answer as to why Cerberus is better: it is controllable both by SMS and by a web dashboard, can be integrated into the kernel so that a reset doesn't wipe it, and has a boatload of well implemented features. Well worth the $5 it costs.

@nicolas-raoul asked me to post my thoughts about the open source app Prey, so here they are my review:

Some redditors asked about Prey as a phone security app. I just tried it out, and it’s missing most features I would consider important. The most vital was that while you can trigger it via a text message, I didn’t see any way to trigger a “report” from the website. In fact, you have to subscribe to the Pro version at US$5.oo/month in order to be able to request the geolocation whenever you want it as opposed to whenever the Prey app runs at some unspecified interval, which pretty much kills the utility of the app as an anti-theft utility.

The only features I could find were obtaining the current location (but no real time tracking, and it doesn’t specify whether it gets the info from GPS or by cell tower triangulation so it may not resolve very far), getting phone network info, triggering an audio alarm, triggering a message box alert, and locking the phone. While it’s great that it’s open source and that it supports so many mobile computing platforms and so might be good for protecting laptops or tablets, I wouldn’t recommend it as a phone anti-theft device.

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Thanks for the review! This question is about open source apps though. So Cerberus is off-topic, but your feedback about Prey would be great to paste here. –  Nicolas Raoul Jan 2 '12 at 4:08

One open-source remote security app is Prey, although I don't think it does remote wipe.

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looking at the options under my Prey account, I don't think it does do remote wipe, no. It will track your phone however, and can lock the phone so it can't be used. –  Martin Feb 17 '11 at 18:09
    
The link seems broken... –  NoBugs Nov 18 '11 at 8:07
    
@NoBugs Thanks, I've updated with a current link, –  Matthew Read Nov 18 '11 at 15:29

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