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Review: GuardMobile

 

One of the more unique story lines coming from the Mobile World Congress was when a HTC prototype was pick-pocketed from Telstra Chief Executive Sol Trujillo. We all breathed a sigh of relief when the Australian Communications Exec was able to have Microsoft remotely wipe the phone clean.

While our Windows Mobile phones might not have Microsoft or HTC trade secrets on them, what data is on the phones is equally important to us. With identity theft a constant concern, we ran across an interesting application that allows Windows Mobile users to protect their phones just like Microsoft and HTC did in Barcelona.

Software developer Maspware offers GuardMobile that not only allows you remote access to your Windows Mobile Phone should it come up missing. Follow the break to see how secure GuardMobile made us feel.

GuardMobile is a security and control systems for remote access for your Windows Mobile phone. Once installed, GuardMobile will allow you to set off an alarm, locate your handset via GPS or Cell Tower ID, conduct a soft or hard reset, lock the phone and initiate a call back from the phone. The GuardMobile features are activated by sending your phone an SMS message from an "approved" phone. These SMS messages are intercepted by GuardMobile so if stolen, the thief doesn't see them.

GuardMobile's settings allows you to authorize up to three phone numbers that can activate features. You'll also have to establish a PIN number to access features, uninstall the application, change settings and silence alarms. I would have liked to have seen GuardMobile be capable of interfacing with a land-line telephone because you might not have one of the "approved" phones sitting around when you discover your phone's missing. Then again, you may not be close to the land-line number either.

The strength of this system is that not anyone or any phone can text commands to reset your phone.  If there is a downside to this system it's that these phones may not be readily available.  So choose your numbers carefully.

 

Along with the remote features, GuardMobile also has a "wiggle alarm" for phones with a G-Sensor. Basically, when you set the "wiggle alarm" you have ten seconds to set your phone down. If someone picks your phone up, an annoying alarm will sound and the phone will lock. The alarm will continue until you silence it with your PIN number.

I gave GuardMobile a test drive and it worked nicely. I went so far as remotely soft resetting the device.  It was a little creepy to see my AT&T Fuze reset after I sent the SMS message from my wife's phone.  (note to self: don't give wife codes for hard reset!).  Once the soft reset was complete, the Fuze sent my wife's phone a text message confirming the soft reset.

If you are carrying a Windows Mobile phone and want to add a layer of protection for your data, GuardMobile is definitely worth looking into. At roughly $6.50 (EUR 4.95), it's economical insurance.

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Comments

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says:

What if the person that stole your mobile phone immediately removes the SIM card???

Minsc says:

Yes, that would be a problem. However, I would guess that in most cases the thief isn't smart enough to think about that - at least not right away. CDMA users probably have an advantage here since the only way to get around this is if the thief were to immediately put the device in airplane mode. (again, probably not likely)

says:

Thats not a problem. GuardMobile informs you, when the sim card has been changed!
And the thief needs to put in a sim card. Otherwise, the device is useless...

says:

I bought GuardMobile but found it really hard to use. I have been playing around with another similar software called Flexilis and found it to be much more suited to what I need. The key thing that I like about Flexilis is that some of the security features can be used from the web. I wrote my impressions on my blog @ http://www.thekunit.com/post/2009/03/11/Flexilis-Initial-Beta-Review.aspx

says:

Its hard to use? Install, activate and thats it! Nothing complicated.
By the way, on MASPware's website (http://www.maspware.com) you can find a Step-By-Step guide and a reference to all commands. Don't need more...

says:

After reading this review I decided to get the evaluation version and eventually bought the program, as I liked most, if not all, of the features.

But at some point (while playing with it) I ran into an issue with my (new) mobile phone being locked by GuardMobile, and unable to unlock it again - OK, this may have been a stupid mistake from my side :-)

I then wrote to the support department of MASPware, but so far without any answer, despite reminder, not even a "we don't know either"... And this is already a month ago, leaving my mobile phone useless ever since! (luckely I still had my old phone).

My review; Nice program, but don't buy it, as when you run into any trouble you are on your own!

Hans

says:

You can always flash the device with new/stock ROM..

says:

I know, but that is not exactly what I had in mind when I bought the program.
Especially as they claim themselves on their support page "You will get an answer by an support employee as quick as possible."

Eventually I was able to bypass the lock myself -which was a good thing for me this time, but not really a proof of the robustness of the program as advertised.

Hans

says:

Neil, can you please provide the instructions on how to bypass this. I ran into the same issue, playing with the trial, everything working ok, then a day later I needed to reset the phone because another application crashed, and it boots up in locked state now. It isn't accepting any of my SMS commands either.

I have a new HTC Touch Pro 2 phone, so I don't want to wipe out all the contacts and such which I haven't been able to back up yet.

This is a pretty serious flaw for sure. I got an initial response saying this is a 'feature', but I am hoping they just misunderstood me.

says:

One thing i dont understand is that when i call to the phone i'm following the thief can stil see it in the caller history. Is it me doing something wrong, or is this a thing the develper forgot to arrange?

Regards The sister

says:

excelent