I got the following email from my employer:

Passwords required on all mobile devices

In order to protect College data stored on portable devices, from Tuesday 20 November ICT will enable a feature which requires all mobile devices (Android, iOS phones and tablets) used to access College emails to be protected with either a PIN password or biometric recognition, such as fingerprint or face recognition. This applies to all portable devices, whether College or personally owned.

At a minimum, ICT will enforce the use of a PIN for access to the device. Devices that do not meet the minimum requirement will be prevented from accessing College email accounts until the device has been appropriately secured.

You can manage your security settings from the ‘settings’ menu of your device. Please get in touch with the Service Desk if you have problems doing this. If you do not wish to secure your device, then you may not be able to access your College email account from your

Is there a feature in Android that I don't know about that will enable them to change the settings on my phone?

EDIT The Plot Thickens

On my way to work this morning popped up on my phone screen when I tried to check my meetings for the day.

Activate Device Admin

Now I am worried. I don't want to give my work admin access to my personal phone. What will they be able to do? Delete my emails? Reset the phone? Lock me out of the phone? Track my location?

I can see how this is fine on devices supplied by an employer but it normal for personal devices.

  • Firstly, if you add information and seek clarification based on new inputs, it is best done as a separate question linking the original. People who answered it earlier will NOT be notified. I happened to see this because of comments on the other answer. Please bear that in mind :-)
    – beeshyams
    Commented Nov 20, 2018 at 16:50
  • Sorry. I am not 100% sure how stack exchange works. Thanks for the tip. I will try a sperate question
    – Robert3452
    Commented Nov 20, 2018 at 16:51
  • Coming to your edit and the new concern- by itself device admin doesn't mean much. What you need to see is the permission asked by the app that is seeking device admin right. There is a question covering a very similar concern and explained in my answer here android.stackexchange.com/a/201669/131553
    – beeshyams
    Commented Nov 20, 2018 at 16:54
  • No problem at all. Our comments crossed. Your question is already answered and therefore will be marked duplicate if you ask:-). Check that and the permissions asked by the app you installed
    – beeshyams
    Commented Nov 20, 2018 at 16:56
  • Be sure to read the link in my answer too
    – beeshyams
    Commented Nov 20, 2018 at 16:59

2 Answers 2


Your employer is informing you of the security you need to implement on your device to access company mails / apps etc. This is a standard practice to endure that company confidential information is not compromised owing to your not having secure lock screen etc. They are not changing it for you. They are asking you to change it. Going by the screenshot, it's simple - agree to implement yourself those measures or not access college mails etc.

But, there are variations like BYOD / Company owned device etc, which can exercise far more control on your device. See here for details.


From discussion on comments added a very useful input from Izzy. The app which you are installing to read the mail should not have device manager permission as only such apps can do a factory reset (aka Google Device Manager on case of stolen devices)


If your employer has installed a management app, then they can do a lot of things. There are many MDM (Mobile Device Management) products for all the platforms. (iOS, Android, Windows, Blackberry, etc). .

If your email is done via ActiveSync, that protocol allows the mail client to manage device settings (With permissions, but with the permissions, it can do it) and to lock down security.

(MS Exchange, Office365, and GroupWise can all use ActiveSync for email, instead of IMAP/POP).

  • +1 you are right. They're more possibilities too including such as BYOD, company owned etc, which I linked in my answer. Essentially, they all at a minimum need device manager permission so kept that as a baseline for one to take a decision
    – beeshyams
    Commented Nov 20, 2018 at 6:52
  • 1
    @beeshyams I think you have hit the root core issue, the permissions needed. Then there is the question of mechanism by which it is effected. Now of interest is the question can you list owners of a particular permission? I see questions on how to search by permissions on Play store. I am curious about contents of my device.
    – geoffc
    Commented Nov 20, 2018 at 16:28
  • For common permissions I use this app. It doesn't show device manager and such permissions which you explicitly have to give and are usually accompanied by warning
    – beeshyams
    Commented Nov 20, 2018 at 16:39

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .