Android: in emergencies, refer to Plan B
Plan B is designed to make up for the failures of Android users who have misplaced their phone and are trying to locate it – but haven't installed any phone tracking software on their device. Now, the free tool from the Lookout Labs developers can reportedly handle such situations retroactively via the Android Market's new remote installation option.
Having been installed remotely, Plan B is designed to start automatically and use GPS as well as network cell data to provide an approximate location of the device. The app then sends the data and an accuracy rating to the Google mail address associated with the smartphone. If Plan B doesn't start automatically, an SMS text message to the device can prompt the tool into action.
Plan B currently only works in the mobile networks of certain US providers. In tests by The H's associates at heise Security, an installation attempt on a device located in the mobile network of a German provider failed. It is not yet known when Plan B will become available for European networks.
In addition to the locator function, a remote locking feature to prevent others from accessing the device would also be desirable – in case users haven't activated a pass phrase or similar mechanism. Stored access credentials for such services as email clients, Wi-Fi, VPN, social networking sites and other apps can turn a smartphone into a kind of master key. Criminals would be able to access significant amounts of private information this way.