CyanogenMod is already one of the most polished Android ROMs out there, but as the dev team says in the most recent blog post, running a custom OS shouldn't mean you're lacking first-class features. To that end, CyanogenMod ROMs will soon include CyanogenMod Account for encrypted device management. The account provider is already in CM's Github, but don't get too ahead of yourself – the CyanogenMod Account isn't rolling out right away.


A CM account will be completely optional and free. There is no carrier, for-profit company, or OEM on the other end – the entire end-to-end encrypted solution will be managed by the CyanogenMod team. Using CyanogenMod Account will let you track a lost phone, or securely wipe the device and SD card. The service will also be used to facilitate the deployment of Secure SMS, which is still in development. Additional CM forum integration will be part of the new account as well.

There are other ways to track and wipe a phone, not least of which being Google's new Android Device Manager. The CM folks believe this and other solutions are "inherently insecure." There are employees for the service provider that could access your data, and unsavory people could always potentially gain access to the system. Not only is the CyanogenMod Account encrypted, the code is not obfuscated and the application is open source (Apache license).

The blog post also goes to great pains to point out CyanogenMod has no interest in selling your data, and even if they wanted to, they can't track or wipe your device. The protocol was designed to prevent that.

The CM team is encouraging people to go through the code and make sure everything looks kosher. For this reason, CyanogenMod won't be rolling CM Account into nightly builds quite yet. When the code is reviewed, then it'll head for devices. If you're interested in the technical details, Koush has a quick explainer up on Google+.

On a related topic, the post also goes into the coming split of releases into a "user" and "developer" branch. The user builds will be signed with a private key to improve security. However, the developer branch will continue to use the default Android "test_keys" for easier modification. This should give everyone the experience they want. Yes, big things are in the works for CyanogenMod.

[CyanogenMod Blog, Koushik Dutta Google+]

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • Ixil

    They're going to have to do something to start paying for all of this.

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

      Maybe you're onto something.

      • Amer Khaznadar

        Following that line of thoughts, I've rushed to check cyngn.com as I rememebered that the countdown should've ended. But I was disappointed with the absence of any info.

        • Michael

          Because it's belongs to some random guy maybe?

    • cabbiebot

      Whenever they have needed something, the community has responded generously with cold hard cash, as the CM team has been so generous to us with their time and effort. Remember when they needed $$ so they could build ICS (which was far larger and required more processing than gingerbread)? http://www.androidpolice.com/2012/02/18/the-cyanogenmod-team-needs-new-servers-heres-how-you-can-help/

    • NathanDrago

      I was thinking the same thing. Who is paying these guys? It surely has all started as a leisure, but now I don't believe it's still a pastime. The team is fully dedicated to it, and this has costs. Do they rely entirely on donations?

      • Scott Miller

        Yup. All donations

        • NathanDrago

          This is downright amazing. It really makes me want to do my part (and I will) when I'll finally root my Nexus 4. What an awesome community we are... :-)

  • mlj11

    <3 CM

  • Jadephyre

    Sounds good so far, hope that all works out.
    Haven't tried the CM10.2 nightlies so far, but i'm looking forward to the first M release.

  • http://www.androidrootz.com/ Anuj Patel

    CyanogenMod has been really pushing out some great features for us Android users in these recent weeks and more it come!!

  • Rob

    THIS is why I've stuck with CyanogenMod since the days of my HTC EVO 4G. :D

  • smellysnatch

    Switched from cyanoge mod to saber mod and never looked back, but this feature does seem pretty cool.

    • PhoenixPath

      Last I checked, Saber used CM as a base, so no, you probably didn't switch and chances are Saber will incorporate this as well.

      (This is not a bad thing...when last checked, Saber gave credit to CM for anything it used and well..it's OSS for a reason, right?)

      • smellysnatch

        Lol no saber doesn't use cm "no android kitchens were used, this is all source build"

        • PhoenixPath

          "Using CM bionic as a base"

          Must have read that wrong then... ;-)

  • Elias

    CM team, please:
    - Make this feature hardcoded on bootloader/recovery so people wouldn't be able to bypass protection by just making a factory reset or flashing a new rom. Flashing a new rom/bootloader/recovery/factory reset should require a password.
    - Put an option to start tracking automatically if an unauthorized SIM is loaded. Also, this should forcefully enable wifi/3G/GPS, and the new phone number should be reported via email or SMS to a previously chosen contact.
    - Please allow realtime tracking, not just one update every ten minutes.
    - Allow sending GPS coordinates via SMS upon command.

    • NathanDrago

      I assume that a thief who can flash a stock ROM can also flash a stock bootloader.
      Yours is a nice idea, but I'm somehow convinced that it's not worth the hassle. A simple protection from factory reset will do it in most cases, can't really imagine more than 1% of overall thieves starting to learn adb code ;-)

      • Carlos Paixao

        Great comment! But, see, this is not about adb code: its about one single adb instruction. It really sounds great if someone could develop some permission restrictions by pin or password for accessing adb commands.

        • Cerberus_tm

          I don't know...on the one hand, I want to track my phone if it's stolen; on the other, I wouldn't want this to brick my phone if I forgot the password—in other words, I would always want there to be a way to physically access the phone to erase it entirely. And think also of second-hand phones: if I buy a second-hand phone, and I'm not an expert, the previous owner can do nasty things to my phone unless I get the right password from him at the moment of sale.

          A very difficult compromise.