Google expands Android Device Manager with remote lock, password reset

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Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is enhancing its fledgling Android Device Manager security tool, enabling consumers to remotely lock down lost or stolen smartphones via the Internet.

Google launched the Web-based Android Device Manager last month. The feature allows users to ring their misplaced phone at maximum volume to help find it, even if the handset is set to vibrate. In the event the device can't be recovered, Android Device Manager also supports remote data wipe capabilities.

The newest version of Android Device Manager lets consumers remotely lock any phone running Android 2.2 and up--users simply create a new password to override any password or PIN already in place, and the lock request will immediately secure any device connected to a cellular network or Wi-Fi. In the event the phone is turned off or set to airplane mode, the remote lock will take effect as soon as it re-establishes its network connection. Google urges that consumers should not reuse their Google Account password.

Google previously said it is also working on an Android app to help users easily find and manage their devices.

Last month, The Wall Street Journal reported that Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics, two of the world's largest Android device makers, are in talks with South Korea's Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning to install an operating system-level kill switch on their upcoming smartphones and tablets, making the devices inoperable if stolen. The kill switch is designed to deter theft by enabling both manufacturers and mobile operators to lock mobile devices even if a SIM card is replaced or the firmware is hacked; consumers would be required to register their devices for the kill switch to work.

South Korean officials maintain that the kill switch is the most effective solution to reducing phone theft because the function is integrated into the OS or firmware and can't be deleted. "Consumers should remain cautious and take phone safety measures by themselves, noting that it is ultimately their responsibility to protect their phone," said Lee Dong-hyung, chief of the Telecommunications Policy Bureau at the ministry.

For more:
- read this Android Police article

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