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Last Updated: July 24th, 2011

For the last 2 weeks, I've been testing a pre-release version of Theft Aware 2.0 - an app that occupies a spot in the familiar Android Security category, alongside WaveSecure, Lookout, and others. And yet, Theft Aware stands so much taller compared to them that they become small, almost invisible, dots. I could hardly contain my excitement and fascination with Theft Aware, but first, I needed to get answers to all of my questions and pass the info to all of you.

The main reason I'm fascinated with Theft Aware is its superb integration with rooted phones. The benefits of Theft Aware's elevated security features on rooted phones are so great that, in my opinion, rooting is worth it (if you've haven't done so yet) just to get the full TA experience. In fact, I would put it in the same class as Android WiFi Tether and SetCPU - that's how excited I am.

There is a lot of information, so please bear with me. I recommend you read it in full to get the grasp of just what TA's main developer, Reinhard Holzner, has accomplished.

Top Features

Before I jump into the walk-through, I want to highlight the top Theft Aware features, starting with the most important ones (marking those possible only with rooted phones accordingly). Note that because I'm reviewing the version running on a rooted phone, your mileage may vary, especially if you don't have root:

  • (root) TA installs itself into the system partition, even on phones with NAND protection, meaning it will not be affected by even full system wipes/resets. The only way to get TA off the phone is by deleting the app via adb, if you know exactly what you're looking for (more on this later), or by flashing a new ROM.
  • (root) I never thought I'd say this, but phones with locked NAND, like the EVO 4G, actually benefit from the read-only nature of their system partition - in this case, the only way to remove Theft Aware is by doing so from recovery via adb.
  • (root) That's right - TA can install itself using the update.zip method - the same method used by the OS to upgrade itself. The app generates and signs a custom update.zip package on the fly during installation or writing secure settings. Can you say "brilliant?"
  • (root) Moreover, it detects and integrates with ROM Manager to make installation (i.e. flashing the update.zip) a snap.
  • (root) The app is completely invisible not just in the app launcher (any app can do that already), but also in the app manager (Settings > Applications > Manage).
  • (root) Moreover, if a thief starts Theft Aware and finds it in the "currently running apps" section of the app manager, he or she will not only fail to uninstall it (see above for why), but also won't be able to delete any of its settings by pressing "Clear Data" - all settings are written to /system the same way as the app itself and are wipe-proof.

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The above features immediately captured my attention, but the list doesn't stop there. We're just getting started.

  • TA does not require a data connection to operate - all controls are done using SMS (more info below), which works anywhere you have reception.
  • There are a variety of remote commands TA can receive and understand via this SMS mechanism. For example, WIPE, LOCK, UNLOCK, SIREN, setting of any option, and even custom commands you can make yourself by programming your own Android activities or services. There is also one more command that deserves its own special bullet point. It's up next.
  • You can make the phone secretly dial you and spy on the thief by listening in on the surroundings. This command is called CALL, and it's pure genius.
  • Since the app disappears from the list, the only way to get into it is by dialing a special code that you set yourself during the setup phase. For example, if you set your code to 2222, you go to the Dialer app, press 2222, Call, and voila - Theft Aware starts up. This code authenticates all SMS control messages from the previous step, by the way, so don't let anyone find it out.
  • (root) TA can install itself as a special device admin, which is a feature introduced in Android 2.2 that allows full wipe, including emails, texts, apps, and anything data-related, including your SD card. On non-rooted phones, this gets rid of Theft Aware as well, but on rooted devices, the app survives.
  • During the installation, TA asks you if you want to customize its application name, so that an unsuspecting thief would never even think twice about something like "EVO 4G camera driver." This doesn't yet change the internal package name, but Theft Aware's developer liked the idea and is thinking of doing this in the future. This feature doesn't really matter on rooted phones, by the way, as, if you remember, TA is completely invisible there.
  • For phones with SIM cards, tracking and locking can be initiated on SIM change, rather than manually.

The rest of the features are not as mind blowing, but they do deserve a mention nonetheless:

  • GPS is enabled automatically + GPS icon hides while the app is determining the phone's position (root is required for this on some phones, as it doesn't work without root 100% of the time).
  • Ability to lock either all phone settings or just the program manager. I actually changed it to lock all settings, and then spent 2 days wondering why the heck I couldn't load the phone's Settings screen at all (oops!). This is an extra precaution, to be used by the most paranoid among us.
  • Application updates are presented only if a trusted SIM card is present. It is recommended to disable these for phones without SIM cards, like those on the Sprint network, to avoid giving a thief any hints.
  • Version 2.0 underwent 5 months of beta testing, just so you know how polished the functionality is.
  • The company blog contains useful things, such as this detailed list of all permissions used by the app - something I appreciated a lot: http://theftaware.blogspot.com/2010/09/theft-aware-permissions.html

What an impressive list, isn't it? Enough with the features, however. Let me show you what Theft Aware looks like and how it performed in my testing.

Hands-On

Theft Aware integrates deep into your Android device and sits there, invisibly and securely, listening for incoming SMS messages containing application directives. This behavior is radically different from software like Lookout or WaveSecure, which provide you with an online interface and an account - just read this account of a severe vulnerability in WaveSecure to understand why that may be a bad idea. Theft Aware's strength is its independence on the presence of an Internet connection, relying exclusively on SMS messaging. No accounts are created and no data is stored on remote servers.

Installation

A lot of hard work went into making the installation, which happens to be one of the most important steps in Theft Aware, streamlined and robust. Here is what it looks like:

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In the screens above, as you can see, the Theft Aware installer went through the steps of securely installing the app to the /system partition (it could write directly, as I'm fully rooted), customizing its name, entering stealth mode, and setting up a personalized pin code, used later on for program access and SMS authentication.

Application Options

Upon the first reboot, Theft Aware completely disappeared from all app lists, just as promised. In order to pull it up, I opened the Dialer, punched in my secret PIN, and pressed Dial. Theft Aware sprung into action and showed me its settings screens. Before that, however, it offered to become a device admin, which is a new feature in Froyo, giving full wipe capabilities. Kind of scared, I accepted the prompts:

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The settings screens follow:

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In the settings, I could enter 2 phone numbers and optionally lock down communication to Theft Aware to only these recognized numbers, for additional security. I could also customize the lock message, the sound, map type, and various other options. Pressing Menu > Advanced exposed a testing menu, including theft event simulation, lock simulation, and sending of a test SMS message.

Lock

To test the most interesting functionality, I started by sending the device a LOCK command. The lock feature, as it turned out, was bulletproof and did not give into anything but the actual PIN code. I tried every button on the phone, including the volume keys. Restarting also didn't help - the siren kicked right back in upon reboot. Here's what this whole circus looked like:

Call Spy

The 2nd feature I tested was the one that kept me the most intrigued since the beginning - the call spy. After sending the CALL command from my wife's Palm Pre, I indeed received a phone call from the EVO and could hear everything that was going on the other end. Brilliant.

There were only 2 hiccups, which, unfortunately, cannot be currently worked around:

  1. Throughout the spy phone call, the EVO seemed completely dead - the screen turned off and none of the buttons could turn it back on. It was basically a dud, which is a lot better than showing the dialer app, but could still alert or puzzle a thief.
  2. If I put the EVO next to my ear, I could hear what was going on the other end - the communication was 2-way, and EVO's earpiece volume was not muted. You should definitely be aware of this and mute yourself, because a thief could hear you. Moreover, when I intentionally denied the call to see what would happen, I distinctly heard the voicemail greeting coming out of the EVO's earpiece speaker.

All in all, a pass with flying colors.

Phone Info

The last command I tried was UPDATE, which is supposed to send the current info about the missing device, including its current tower and exact location. The only complaint I had, and I am blaming the Pre here, was that the info SMS was received in 3 separate chunks, even though most smartphones nowadays can decipher and put together a multi-part message longer than 160 characters. After some assembling, the url to the map showed my location with very precise accuracy of 6 meters.

A fun fact: according to Theft Aware, there is a semi-secret way of determining the device's position even if GPS could not be activated. The method is based on deciphering the cell tower information and is not very accurate, but better than nothing nonetheless.

Wipe, And Other Features

I have not tested wipe and the rest of the features, such as getting contacts or SMS history, because, even though I have nandroid backups, I didn't feel like spending half an hour restoring. I am pretty confident that those all work as expected.

Updates

During my testing, the app notified me of an update, which was performed internally and without any problems.

Note: rooted phone owners need to restart their devices after a successful update.

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Downsides

With all the amazing upsides listed above, there must be some downsides as well, right?

  • Theft Aware is not open source. Understandably, it's a commercial product with lots and lots of love poured into it, so getting access to the code is out of the question.
  • The level of integration is so deep, especially with root, that it could get kind of scary. There is no way to tell what the app is really doing, other than to sniff all the traffic, if any, which I have not done. We have to trust the app's creators, but then again, we have to do so with most apps out there. After doing some research and talking to the company's CEO, I found it to be quite legitimate - ITAgents is a GmbH (our equivalent of an LLC) registered in 2004 in Austria by Reinhard Holzner. In addition, the company has been doing business with many happy Symbian users for years now, before conquering Android.
  • The license, which is 10 Euros, is not a downside on its own. However, the fact that it's tied to a physical device (using its IMEI) and not a user is a bit of a downside. This means if my EVO breaks or if I lose it, the replacement phone would need its own license.

Documentation And Support

Theft Aware comes with an excellent user guide, which includes all supported control commands. You can find the v2.0 document right here.

A support forum where you can post questions is available here.

Download

Download Theft Aware from TheftAware.com or from the Market by using the following QR code:

QR code for https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=at.itagents.ta_setup_mf

The app is shareware, which means you need to acquire a 10 Euro license after the trial period, which you can do from here.

Conclusion

Wow, this review turned out to be a lot longer than I expected it to be (it took 5+ hours to write), and after interacting with Theft Aware for over a week, I feel like it has almost become a part of my family.

What Theft Aware developers have accomplished here is something no other security app out there has, in my opinion - a robust, stealthy app, with levels of system integration so deep that I am afraid I wouldn't be able to find it one day myself.

With the app living invisibly on my phone, I have full confidence that, unless stolen by a pro, I will be able to not only to recover the device, but also find the perp and have him arrested.

P.S. Maybe if you ask nicely, we'll even do a giveaway.

Artem Russakovskii
Artem is a die-hard Android fan, passionate tech blogger, obsessive-compulsive editor, bug hunting programmer, and the founder of Android Police.
Most of the time, you will find Artem either hacking away at code or thinking of the next 15 blog posts.

  • Aj

    Holy shit. I want this.

    • boudjemaa

      vraiment cette option est merveille est utille pour le portable j'ai vraiment cette option merci a avast c'est vrait vous etes les meilleur

  • Kane

    This is some seriously awesome shit. Looks like a lot of though went into the thinking behind TA.

  • GrapeApe

    Please do a giveway.

    The nice part was the "please" :)

  • Adam

    Very similar to TotalCare, but with much deeper integration, and some really great additional features. I'm sold. Will it be the most money I've ever (and probably will ever) spend on an Android app? Yes. Totally worth it if it helps me recover my stolen Incredible? Absolutely. Thanks for the great writeup!

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      My thoughts exactly. The dev is very responsive to feedback and bug reports by the way, which is always good.

  • ValhallaSky

    Do they plan to include integration for gVoice sms?

    • http://www.theftaware.com Reinhard Holzner

      hmm we did not think of this yes, but absolutely i will take a look at that.

  • http://www.rowald.net Rob

    Please do a give away. It would be a very beneficial product for anyone to have..

  • Brakk

    On the strength of this review alone, I went ahead and purchased a license BEFORE I even installed the app.

    • http://www.theftaware.com Reinhard Holzner

      how cool is THAT? :-) thanks!

  • UnTitleD

    PLEASE~ Do giveaway! :-D I'm Sold!

  • http://brentonklik.com Brenton

    I could see this being abused. Someone could potentially put this on their rooted phone, sell it on Ebay, then "F" with the buyer.

    • k00ey

      Also something that popped into my head as I was reading this review. Not only abused to "buyers" but think of those crazy stalkers that want to know where their spouse is at all times, etc etc

      • http://www.theftaware.com Reinhard Holzner

        we prohibit such usage in our license policy. we made our "knife" for "eating" and not for "killing somebody" if you understand what i mean. :-)

        • scott

          With all due respect, as I think it's a great app, someone with malicious intent won't be stopped by your license policy. It also seems to skirt the edge of privacy invasion.

  • noumoe

    Great review, a pity i do not know how to ask nicely for the giveaway...

  • Justtryin

    Sold too! Please, could you kindly do a giveaway? Thanks so much!!

  • SiliconAddict

    The only catch I see if if you start up recovery and load up a new ROM it would wipe this. However
    1...your average thief doesn't know how to do this. 2...its not something that your average thief would take the time to research and do. Average thief if they see that the siren is going off on each boot is going to toss the system. Hopefully with the battery still in it and turned on, recovery FTW. If would be nice if these guys teamed up with Clockwork or Almon Ra and password protect the recovery partition with a 4 character pin. Volumebar up/down for selecting the number, power to select, next one, next one, next one then at the end enter and boom...pass/fail on the password. Fail=Reboot

    PS- Hey does anyone know if this works through Google Voice? i.e txting through GVoice?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/jaroslav-stekl/ Jaroslav Stekl

      Don't see any reason why it wouldn't, since a text is a text, at least to the device receiving it.

      • SiliconAddict

        Actually the txt is received via the google voice app and I don't believe the OS and the SMS messaging app "sees" the message. That is why up til now to use Google voice's txting feature it has to be used IN the GVoice app.

        • http://www.theftaware.com Reinhard Holzner

          i'll look at that - but i think it might be hard to do, lets see...

  • http://twitter.com/qvittle Quittle

    Please do a give away, this is such an amazing product!!!

  • http://www.anivision.org Xcom923

    looks cool. I'm not sure about the link to the IEMI. If I switch phones I would like to keep this license. But then again maybe that could be one of the things you can ask the devs for if you were to switch. Then again 10 euros isn't really that much to protect a phone from theft.

  • Saint2710

    What an awesome product, Well done IT agents and thanks Artem for an excellent review.
    I hope you do a giveaway and consider us guys on the other side of the Pond who follow the site avidly. ;-)

  • Nick

    So I installed this using the UPDATE.zip after reading this article. As soon as it booted up the phone it told me my trial was over. Not such a good impression for an app that I am giving FULL CONTROL over my phone. I submitted a trouble ticket and posted to their forums. Hopefully they can help me out as I will be buying for myself and my wife after I am able to evaluate. I guess I also get to see how their support is before I purchase.

    • http://www.theftaware.com Reinhard Holzner

      we've heard of such issues - just searching for people who can help me who have good experience with adb. if you are one of those (as it seems) drop me an email to reinhard (at) itagents.at and we'll look at it together.

    • Nick

      As a follow up to my post yesterday, support has been in touch with me and is doing everything in their power to help me out with the issue. I will post back to let you know my results. So far so good.

      • http://www.theftaware.com Reinhard Holzner

        Announcement: The issue with the trial ending too soon has just been fixed. An update (build 1611) has been published. You can update your app from within the app. You do not have to update if the trial period works on your phone. Sorry for all the troubles.

  • http://www.theftaware.com Reinhard Holzner

    Hi guys i am the dev of TA. Not in office right now you know... time difference. Writing from phone which is a bit complicated for longer Text... but i promise to give a statement about all your questions as soon as i am in office tomorrow. See you very soon. And artem: thanks for this really great review good to see that our work was not wasted... best regards, Reinhard.

  • Chacho

    Sounds just awesome. The review alone just blew my mind. My only concern is not being able to remove it if I ever need to do this for one reason or another (even with a code or something) - if I understood this right. As an unadvanced phone user, I would be worried that I might be doing some harm to my phone (with all due respect to the official legitimisation seal of the developer). That said, I would love to have a version installed, and would ask please, please, please for a giveaway :) :) :)

  • http://livejamie.com livejamie

    How does this effect battery life?

    • http://www.theftaware.com Reinhard Holzner

      theft aware only runs if it got some work todo and rests in the background if not. so this is not consuming much battery. also on most phones (if non rooted, will work on all rooted phones) you'll not have to activate GPS all the time as TA is able to do it automatically which also preserves battery life.

  • Silvio Guedes

    Sorry, I like Wave, Bada OS

  • MJV

    When flashing new roms, how easy is the re-installation? Will I have issues?

    If this is easy enough I will buy it. It sounds like something I've been wanting to set up on Tasker but on steroids.

    Oh and gvoice integration would be another major plus.

  • http://www.theftaware.com Reinhard Holzner

    hey - i think you'll have no issues - installation is REALLY easy!

  • Lana

    Great stuff...I want this. Well done IT Agents.

  • Rich5

    If someone is is the US , will the SMS messages sent to the phone be international. I am asking as I tried WaveSecure, and the reason I didn't purchase it is I get billed highly for international sms by by carrier.

    Thanks.

    • http://www.theftaware.com Reinhard Holzner

      no communication between the phones will be direct so if both are in the US national rates will apply. no communication occurs to other gateways.

      • http://www.theftaware.com Reinhard Holzner

        I've been told that my reply is confusing due to absence of commas :-)

        OK, (comma) again: :-)

        Communication between the two phones occurs DIRECTLY which means that, if both phones are located in the same country (e.g. the US), only standard national charges apply.

  • J

    I see that TA allows for custom remote SMS commands to launch apps on your phone. Since the CALL feature currently allows the thief to hear voicemail prompts, ringback tones (ugh!), etc., would it be possible to send a Theft Aware SMS to launch Tasker, which might allow for a "Set In-Call Volume to 0" task/condition?

    That way, the thief wouldn't be able to hear the annoying ringback tone on my girlfriend's phone. She'll more than likely have the nearest friendly cell phone in the event I lose mine.

    If you could incorporate that natively into Theft Aware, that would be spectacular.

    Also, a free license would be sweet!

    Thanks

    • J

      And before anyone chimes in, I'm pretty sure I can make a task in Tasker activated by an inbound text to mute In-Call volume, but I like the way that Threat Aware hides your inbound texts (provided they are prefaced with your access code) so I'd like to pass the SMS on to that, rather than directly to Tasker

      • http://www.theftaware.com Reinhard Holzner

        hmm its possible for sure but you can spare your work - i am already researching on this mute features :-)

  • http://www.theftaware.com Reinhard Holzner

    hey guys wanna see who ITAgents is? I put a pic on our blog: http://theftaware.blogspot.com/ have fun laughing at us :-)

    • Nick

      Thanks for this picture. Nice to put a face to the company. Let me know how I can help with the Evo UPDATE.zip issue. I sent you an email and I have that thread going in your forums. Sitting here at work with nothing to do, so just let me know what you need. I am getting my daughter a Hero today (I want her on Android, but she doesn't quite yet get an Evo). Anybody tried this on the Hero yet? I am using it on the EVO and it is great so far. I haven't tried the Call feature, but I am sure it will be ironed out pretty quick.

  • MJV

    So I just went and bought this. Been fooling around with it at work. It's really really awesome. Highly recommended if you want an superb anti-theft application.

  • Peter

    I also installed this app and I think it's one the things you don't think a lot about before you had problems with your device but you are more than thankfull to locate your phone and can get it back pretty easy.

  • http://www.theftaware.com Reinhard Holzner
  • Just Some Guy

    nice love the fact that it hides it self form other apps, i would like to know is if i set this up (with root) will it not get deleted when i change roms because i change roms a lot if so i will buy this right now!

    :JuSoGu

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      It will definitely need to be installed in each ROM, as a ROM is a separate system image. It's not like TA installs itself into the boot loader or something.

      • Psy

        How hard would that be to do?

  • sjpm

    You need an affiliate link Artem ;) I'll be buying this one. $13 App to protect a $500 phone? That's a no-brainer.

    Besides...

    "You too can have your 15 minutes of internet fame when you track down your smartphone's thief!"

    Think of all the youtube hits...

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      Actually, we got set up with an affiliate program which pays 1 euro for each upgrade. The link is in the post. It's not a big deal really, just a little extra something.

      • http://www.theftaware.com Reinhard Holzner

        hi the more sales one has the more outpay. it goes to up 50% which is 5 EUR per sale.

  • Wal

    So how does Theft aware deal with the swapping out of the phone sim?.. How can you send an sms to your phone if you dont know the number?

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      You have to enter the numbers it should send the alerts to in advance (your friend, spouse, google voice, etc).

      • Dragos

        Artem, I understand that in order to activate TheftAware (not in the sense of running it in the background but actually letting the program know that the phone is lost/stolen and you need it to inform you of its whereabouts) you need to send an SMS or do an internet activation. But if the phone is not connected to the internet and the SIM card is swapped to another one, to which number will you be sending your SMS telling the program to start tracking/blocking/wiping etc.? Maybe this is a dumb question, but can you send an SMS to a phone by identifying its IMEI number or is it only while it still has the SIM card inside?
        If it is the latter, than any thief will sooner rather then later learn to withdraw battery and SIM card from the phone immediately...

        • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

          As I stated above (though probably not very clearly), I believe the idea is you pre-enter up to 2 emergency phone numbers into Theft Aware. Then, as soon as a new SIM is inserted by the thief, TheftAware will automatically send an SMS to those emergency numbers and report the new SIM's number. Now you know where to send the commands.

  • laplaya

    Ok what is to prevent somone from putting this on someones phone to listen in on thier conversations? Put it on your spouses or kids phone and if she is talking near the phone you could dial in and liste?

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      Nothing really.

  • Shivanath

    what happens if u try to re-install the app while its not deleted

  • Marilena Manika

    Does anyone know if it works in greece? There are several problems here with payed apps..
    Also, my phone is not rooted (i dont wanna lose the guarantee), if i purchase TA now and later deside to root the phone, will I have to buy it again? Otherwise, will the extra features be activated automatically or will I have to reinstall it? And how can I do that?
    (smells like android newbie here xD)

  • Chris12

    I was wondering if some features are on the roadmap:

    - Silent following, like some sort of private detective mode. With some features like below here
    - by a SIM change the contacts via sms/email sent to an email account
    - Photo/camera activate on demand (silent) see where your phone is, and who it is using! (front camera)
    - Microfone/call recording to SD, and upload to an email account
    - New taken photo's automatically upload to an email account.
    - Location/GPS update intyerval change.

  • Twlal

    Sounds great.. But if a theft knew what he or she was stealing. The first thing they would do is dump the sim card and boot up without any network connections. From there steal information that they wanted.
    Go on XDA, learn how to wipe the phone and move on.
    I am not one of those shady stealers... but that is what I assume would happen.
    This would work if some stupid kid stole your phone.. or if you lost it in a cab or something.

    Does this also wipe the SD CARD? fully?

  • mohammed

    this beta app seems to do a similar thing...but for free. average rating 4.55 / 5

    http://www.webroot.com/En_US/android-antivirus-mobile-security.html

  • http://www.theftaware.com Reinhard Holzner

    NEW in Theft Aware: SMS forwarding & carbon copy, call notifications, Aurax :-)

  • http://www.theftaware.com Reinhard Holzner

    eh AuraxTSense support i mean :-)

  • Jai Bar

    Very nice software, but...

    1. Flashing new ROM completely wipes Theft Aware (TA). So, Rooted users who update their ROMs will have to reinstall TA, and a thief could flash a ROM (from backup, for example) and get rid of TA in a few minutes.

    2. But why bother with flashing ROMs? A thief could easily install any type of software such as "Lookout" (or whatever similar from dozens to choose with superuser privileges) and wipe away TA in a couple of clicks...

    Other than that, assuming common thieves are not sophisticated to uninstall TA it is useful, especially to find it if lost at home on silent mode :-)

  • http://www.theftaware.com Reinhard Holzner

    Jai: the average user/thief will just do a hard reset and think thats it.

  • SImon

    The only item of interest is the remote wipe. Why?

    Lets see what happened when a thief steals a 'phone:

    1. Take phone.
    2. Remove SIM card.
    3. Remove SD card.
    4. Perform factory reset, or give to someone who can perform factory reset.
    (If factory reset not possible, then reflash kernel/wipe etc).
    5. Sell phone.

    The buyer will (if not already done) wipe the phone/reflash). The data on the SD card is what we don't want in other peoples' hands. CC details recorded in your Contacts list, your bank's Internet online banking bookmark in the browser. The list goes on.

    So what does one really need?
    A method of wiping all personal data after the phone has been stolen _and_ the SIM removed. Shame, but I cannot see how to do this.

    Therefore we require another idea.
    *** Encrypted partitions.

    • Philip Waterman

      I know what you mean; whenever we've had company mobiles stolen they stop communicating with the Exchange server shortly after the theft and never reappear. I guess the thieves are well aware of gps tracking and so just dump the SIM and SD card.

      However, you can go some way to protecting the phone by installing the app below. It wipes the internal memory and SD if the SIM is replaced or the password/swipe pattern is incorrectly entered.

      As for the data on the SD card; contacts and passwords for apps (mail etc) are rarely stored there, most goes into the internal memory.

      Here's the app:

      http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=717469

      As for encrypted partitions, these guys are working on it, but only for two phones at the moment:

      http://www.whispersys.com/whispercore.html

  • at

    Great I have been looking for this app! Hidden

    @Simon
    atleast with root it survives a Hard Reset, thats pretty darn good since most thieves won't flash roms.

  • http://www.theftaware.com Reinhard Holzner

    Theft Aware is now running a BIG global 70% price promotion! Hey, check out our website!

  • Ciccio
  • yuval

    How to unistall this program?

  • Paul

    I'm purchasing today. I read this article a while back but never really got around to installing security software. But I remembered the root level of integration of this SW and now I'm ready to take the plunge and install security software and TheftAware just seems like a winner for me. One feature I liked from checking out the other alternatives is the ability to not only lock the phone but also display owner information on the screen. Lets say I left it at a restaurant on accident and the manager/waitress gets it but has no idea how to get it back to me. If I send it a code I'd like it to display my contact info so they can contact me. Maybe make the alarm noise optional.

  • Paul

    Just installed. It's neat. But my phone is in an area, deep inside a building, where getting a GPS signal is near impossible. I was dismayed that an update command didn't result in the phones location. I thought it would try GPS first, followed by A-GPS (tower info)? Even a rough location is better than no location. I was also wondering about Googles wifi database. The phones can now use WiFi AP Mac Addresses combined with Googles database, to determine its location. The phones can even navigate based on this info. Google makes this database publicly available, I put in my home's wifi mac address into this site that uses Googles database and the thing brought up my home address, it's insane. So it'd be awesome if TheftAware can use GPS, A-GPS, Tower Info and lastly WiFi Mac Address(es) to determine the phones location. I'm going to suggest it in the forums. Right now if a thief had my phone and was in this building, I'd have no idea where the phone is. But I know the wifi AP's mac's in this building are in Googles database and it is talking to towers.

  • Joachim

    Wow...I would really like this app for my phone, one already stolen some time ago.

    Now i just have to find an easy method of rooting my HTC Desire Z. Downgrading to an old firmware to root makes me really feel uncomfortable :(

  • ROAN

    how can i disable my theft aware application? for me as a prepaid user if give me hardtime, i ALWAYS lost my PREPAID LOAD because it keeps on sending message on my other phone(C/P). please let me know how to disable it. pleassssssssee

    • Parsecs

      while writing this you could already have googled for the answer. try it! you will get usable hits on the first page for "uninstall theft aware"

  • Parsecs

    @roan: while writing this you could already have googled for the answer. try it! you will get usable hits on the first page for "uninstall theft aware"

  • akoli

    Just trying it out now .. but does exactly what I need. $6 for an unbound version thats transferable is a bargain. Although the fact they have been bought out by avast concerns me....

  • Mak Mtefefo

    I had Theft Aware for free on my Symbian, it broke recently and got an Android, I bought the Unbound license as this app works perfect.

  • Martinez

    I bought this months back during the first article. Just updated today. I love it! Came in handy during my last visit to Vegas. It was great. Luckily the chick who found my phone that night was cool. But it was simple. Used my Google Voice to LOCK & UPDATE for GPS coords. Can you say "Awesome"?

  • blontic

    Is there any difference between this and Cerberus?

    Cerberus lets you use up to 5 devices on the same license also.

    https://market.android.com/details?id=com.lsdroid.cerberus&hl=en

  • Sir Nick

    The Samsung Galaxy S2 itsn't supported :(

  • http://www.avast.com Reinhard

    Actually it is. The list on http://www.theftaware.com is not up to date anymore. A new website will go up soon.

  • Ajay Kokill

    Hi, I had installed theftaware from nokia ovi store in my nokia 5800 phone. i changed my sim card and it started sending txt messages to my home phone which i was not able to stop and it was decreasin my credit on my phone. the program thought that my phone was stolen but in fact it was my other sim card. so i formatted my phone with some commands and as it became new again my 8 gb micro sd was locked with a password which i don't remember when i setup theftaware on my phone. please help me on how i can retrieve my data from my memory card.. thanx

  • James

    This app rocks. I put it on my wife's phone and cough her cheating red handed.
    Put the goof that was boinking her in intensive care for 2 months. I'm sure he will think twice before doing anther mans wife.

    • scott

      Couldn't imagine why she'd cheat on you. *eyeroll*

    • annon

      Sure she won't cheat on ur dumb ass again.

    • toebee97

      How huge must your ego be to assume that all your problems are now solved just because you beat up the guy that your wife cheated on you with... enjoy your divorce.

    • Trevor

      You are an idiot. I hope you go to jail for assault.

  • Akshara

    Theft Aware was acquired by Avast and Avast Mobile Security is one of the best security & anti theft app for Android and it is free.

  • Alex Morgan

    Please Please Please do a giveaway, and let me win this :)

    • Ish

      I think you missed the point of the last comment...it doesn't exist anymore. Theft Aware was acquired by Avast and added to their app, "Avast Mobile Security". Go check it out, it's free and includes some options that you usually only find in the paid apps.

  • Timothy Roberts

    @Artem; I thought this was one of the best reviews you've done to date! You took the app and broke it down completely, explaining every feature in utter detail to include pictures! Although it was a fairly long read, it kept my attention and was not boring at all. You certainly gave enough information to help others decide if the app is right for them. Your doing a great job keeping the masses up to speed on the latest and greatest stuff that developers have to offer. Thank you!

  • sahil deshmukh

    i m using a nokia symbian s60 5233 phone..few days ago i installed theft aware but it didnt worked...! after that i removed it but it is not removed completely...it is sending messages to my contacts in my phonebook whenever my battery is low...i want to remove it completely....please help...!!!

  • sahil deshmukh

    i m using a nokia symbian s60 5233 phone..few days ago i installed theft aware but it didnt worked...! after that i removed it but it is not removed completely...it is sending messages to my contacts in my phonebook whenever my battery is low...i want to remove it completely....please help...!!!!!!

    • http://www.avast.com Werner

      Hello

      to open Theft Aware dial your pin like a phone number. you created the pincode on installing theft aware (4-6 digits, only numbers).

      To uninstall Theft Aware open it, deactivate Theft Aware and now you see Theft Aware in the list of your apps and can uninstall it.
      If you think you already uninstalled it - but it still seems to be on the phone please install this package on your
      phone: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/27553331/RescueFile.sis - this will give you an icon in the app
      menu again with which you can launch Theft Aware. Then deactivate Theft Aware and uninstall it.

      As we don't support the Symbian version any more I need to ask you to consult our manual available at http://dl.dropbox.com/u/27553331/TheftAwareSymbian%202_00_User_Guide_English.pdf if you need further help.
      Give it a try – it’s short and easy to understand! 99% of all questions are already answered and can be found with a quick google search.

      If you forgot/lost your access pin we have a difficult situation. Theft Aware doesn't send the pin code to our servers and there is no master key for security reasons.
      All we can recommend is to backup your data and hardreset the device.

      Werner

  • darkan9el

    awesome review, would like to know where we'd stand with regards to changing phones and license's? is there a charge for a new phone license, after all you pay for the product so the license should be transferable.

  • http://www.avast.com Werner

    Hello,

    our company, ITAgents, has been aquired by AVAST Software a.s. two month ago. AVAST meanwhile has extended Theft Aware for an elaborated android security suite: "avast! Mobile Security" which contains a sophisticated anti-virus, avast! Anti-Theft (former Theft Aware), privacy options and much more.

    Androidpolice reviewed the whole package:
    http://www.androidpolice.com/2012/01/02/review-avast-mobile-security-for-android/

    by the way: it's all free now!!

    Regards,

    Werner

  • VIRU

    I FORGET MY PASSWORD .................... PLEZ... TELL ME HOW TO REMOVE IT FROM MY GALAXY ACE

  • nukeshock

    so what if the person take out the sim card ? you cant sms to the phone anymore

    • Athinira

      The phone reports the new phone number to Avast, so you will know which number to message through the Avast-interface.

  • Rohit

    Avast Does All of These for Free. Why Buy a 10 Euro Crap, Which Can Itself Turn on You?

    • themetal

      Do you have a brain ?!!!
      Actually Avast did buy Theft Aware.

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