Android and Me

The truth behind Android’s “Remote Wipe” ability.

3 years ago 15

My morning started as most of my mornings do, Tablet in hand I trudge around my house making sure my little ones are getting breakfast and readying for school. I flick through all of the news and commentary I may have missed in the last 8 hours, catch a few webcomics, and if I am feeling adventurous I will even check out Twitter. This was one such morning where a flick through twitter revealed more than a few people upset that someone had discovered a “kill switch” in the Thunderbolt source code. Through the Droid Rage, it was pointed out that this bit of code is not exclusive to the Thunderbolt.

You can find the snippet of code that I will be referring to HERE.

This code, more commonly referred to as the Master Clean command, it not some evil weapon that carriers, manufacturers, or even Google would wield over you for committing some heinous crime. In fact, this code exists on every Android device, including ones compiled via AOSP. It’s there for local network administrators. This is a corporate feature to enable a sys admin to wipe a phone that’s been misplaced, stolen, or even picked up by a wannabe reporter in a strange bar. It’s a simple security feature to protect a company from losing valuable or secure data.

So in a couple of months, when the next insanely hyped Android phone comes out, and a week or so later you hear that a super secret “kill switch” was installed to brick your phone if you misbehaved, please remember this article, as I am sure it will be just another retelling of this same old tale.

Huge thanks to @teamANDIRC for the tip!