January 14th, 2011

Protect your mobile data from theft with “Remote Wipe”

If your mobile device (e.g., iPad or Blackberry) is lost or stolen, then you have no control over who may gain access to:

  • Viewing existing and new email messages
  • All of your contacts
  • Your calendar appointments
  • Sending email as you
  • and more…

This is pretty serious, especially for folks who are subject to regulations and compliance laws.

For example, if a Nurse, using an iPad to manage patient appointments or to communicate via email with remote doctors, were to lose that iPad and it were to be accessed by someone else, then that may become a HIPAA “breach” (an unauthorized disclosure of protected health information) and the Nurse’s organization may be subject to stiff monetary fines and bad publicity.

Remote Wipe

Remote Wipe is a feature of LuxSci’s Basic and Premium Mobile Sync service which allows one to remotely and immediately delete all data from a mobile device.

If you discover that your device is really missing (and not just under the seat of the car) and presumed lost or stolen, you can login to our web site and issue the “Remote Wipe” command.  Within a minute or so, the sensitive data on your device will be automatically deleted. Problem solved … well, except for actually getting your device back.  For that, we recommend using one of the widely available GPS tracking apps that are available for most modern phones.

How Remote Wipe Works

For Remote Wipe to work:

  • you must be subscribed to LuxSci’s basic or premium Mobile Sync service
  • your device must be on and have Internet connecitvity
  • your device must be configured to use Mobile Sync and to have “push” enabled (so that it accepts remote commands as they arrive)

When you issue a Remote Wipe command in our portal, the Mobile Sync system sends a special command to your device over the real-time, always-on “push” channel.  If your device receives this, it will perform the wipe.  You can check in our portal to see if it succeeded.

We recommend that you password-protect your mobile device (i.e. add an access code).  This helps prevent an unauthorized user from quickly disabling Internet access or your Sync settings as soon as s/he picks up the device (as such things would disable Remote Wipe).  Turning the phone “off” is OK … as soon as it is back “on” and can get Internet access, it can receive the Wipe command waiting for it.

Device Compatibility Notes

Most mobile devices, when they receive the Remote Wipe command, will revert to a “factory default” state.  I.e. all data, apps, and other information will be gone.

Most devices (like Apple mobile devices and those from Palm) handle Remote Wipe easily. Some devices behave a little differently:

BlackBerry: As the blackberry accesses Mobile Sync through the AstraSync App, Remote Wipe only deletes the data synchronzied through that App.  I.e. LuxSci email, calendars, and tasks.  No other data on the Blackberry is touched.

Window’s Mobile: Due to security implementation on Window’s devices, you must enable/authorize Remote Wipe before using it.  I.e. with a Windows Phone, you can’t wait until you lose the phone, you must plan ahead.

Android: Remote Wipe is only available on devices/phones running Android 2.2 (Froyo) or newer. To enabled device wipe on an Android device the program (probably your email program) must be set up as a Device Administrator under Menu > Settings > Location and Security >Device Administration > Select Device Administrators.

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