Why can’t we find our lost mobile device?

I have received numerous requests asking me to track their lost or stolen device. There’s nothing I can do about it although they have my sympathy. If unfortunately you are one of them, do not expect me to give any answer. But why?

It’s in fact not easy to track a stolen mobile phone even if you have location app installed beforehand. Do not believe it? Well here’s a test by Avast.

Avast, yes you got it right, the famous PC security company, did such a test 5 months ago. An excellent promotion for their mobile security app too. Anyways, they installed three location apps on 10 mobile devices (I suppose all Android?), Avast Anti-Theft, Lookout Mobile Security and Clean Master, as well as the owners’ name and return addresses. They then ‘lost’ these handsets in New York and LA and waited patiently. Guess what? As of writing, only 4 handsets have been returned although they do not reveal how.

avast

 

According to Avast, here are what happened to those 6 lost mobile devices.

  • Most of those phones were perform a factory reset to wipe up data and apps.
  • Avast was the only one to survive the hard reset.
  • One had been shipped to India.
  • One appeared in
  • One was sent to a pawnshop.
  • One was left in a taxi in LA.

Those were what happened exactly to the other 6 handsets. Although a 40% chance to recover a mobile device is pretty good, Avast did not detail how those 4 phones were recovered, there might be a good chance some of them were returned by those who found the device. Even if all of them were recovered using location apps, what would happen if you have installed Lookout Mobile apps?

This is nothing new, I wrote a post 5 years ago about how to prevent people from uninstalling or wipe up the anti-theft apps, about 3 years ago I wrote about the reasons why you can’t track your android phone using plan B, and it turns out that things do not change at all.

The good news is that Avast is making things better, together with Samsung. I have an old Galaxy S5 LTE-A, it stops others from flashing a new ROM if they do not have the correct Samsung account and password, but it’s still not easy to find a stolen Samsung cell phone.

After saying all of that, it seems it’s Apple who has done the best to protect their customers’ devices. But good job, Avast!

Posted by Alex Zaah | Category: Cell phone tracking |

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