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How To Keep Law Enforcement Out Of Your Android Device «Android :: Gadget Hacks



While we hope that you will never experience this, law enforcement agencies may force you to disclose your phone and its self-incriminating data. Before doing so, you should know that you have tools to protect your data in such situations.

These tips are mainly about sharpening settings in Android. However, there is also a third-party app that can help. Once you've implemented these tips, you can stop law enforcement efforts by locking your phone, even if it owns it. But we are not lawyers. Use these tips at your own discretion, as circumstances vary.

Tip # 1: Disable Biometrics in Seconds.

Although biometrics provides an excellent balance between security and usability, it can be used in dealing with law enforcement against you. While a recent ruling at the District Court of the Northern District of California held that the police had forced you to unlock your phone with your fingerprint, this was a violation of the Fourth and Fifth Amendment.

However, the refusal of your passcode was confirmed in both a Pennsylvania ruling and a Colorado ruling. While a judge in Florida has challenged the protection of the fifth amendment, this is still the safer option.

In Android 9 Pie, Google introduced a feature known as lockdown mode. It is not enabled by default, so you need to turn it on first. After activation, you can quickly lock your phone and disable biometrics with a single key. PIN, pattern or password remain the only way to unlock your phone. Best of all, your fingerprint scanner (or secure face detection) is disabled only once, so you do not have to remember to turn it off after you've met.

If your phone is running an older Android version, there is another workaround: Just restart it. When you restart the phone, you will need to enter your password, PIN, or pattern at the next unlock. In other words, biometrics will be temporarily disabled.

Tip 2: Use a strong password.

If you disable Tip 1

, the alphanumeric password is the most secure authentication method your phone offers. With a secure password (which can be up to 16 characters long), you can be sure that your phone will not be unlocked without your consent, as there are simply too many possible combinations that law enforcement can guess.

An 8-digit password without consecutive letters (or the use of common words or names) would take a computer over five months to be cracked. Increase this value to 16 characters and it would take several millennia . Until Google implements the ability to unlock both password and biometrics, this is the safest option to keep everyone (including law enforcement) away from your phone. And with lock mode you rarely need to use it.

Tip 3: Disable Smart Lock

If you're using Android's Smart Lock feature to make unlocking your device easier, know that it's a double-edged sword: It also makes it easier for law enforcement to get into your phone.

In particular, the "On-Body Detection" setting keeps your phone unlocked when its motion sensors detect this Continuous movement (in a way that is consistent with a person's walking) since the last unlock with a PIN, pattern or password. If you are stopped while the phone is in this unlocked state, the officer can take possession of your phone and keep the body detection active by placing it on his person. You could then unlock your phone with a simple swipe.

Smart Lock's Trusted Places setting also carries a low risk. This will keep your phone in certain places, such as B. at home, unlocked. If you are held at one of these locations, officers can unlock your phone without a PIN, pattern, or password.

To disable all Smart Lock options, go to Settings -> Security -> Smart Lock and then select each item individually and disable the toggle switch on the following screen. Under "Trusted Places," tap anywhere and select "Delete."

Tip # 4: Hide Notifications

Although the lock screen prevents law enforcement officers from accessing your phone's content, it may be a source of information even without access to the rest of the phone. This is because our notifications (especially messages) can be read by default – sometimes completely – on the lock screen.

To change this behavior, go to Settings and select "Security and location" (this can be different) In this case, look for an option with the addition "Security" in the name and select "Lock screen" and "Lock Screen." Select either "Hide Confidential Content" or "Do Not Show Notifications."

If your phone has a notification LED, we recommend selecting the latter because it provides the best protection The flashing LED notifies you of new notifications, but never displays on your lock screen, but without a notification LED, you will not receive a new message until your phone is muted the next time you unlock it In that case, we recommend that you select "Hide Confidential Content."

Alternatively, if your T If your phone is equipped with Android 9 or later, use the "Lock Mode" option to temporarily disable all screen lock notifications, if prompted or detained by law enforcement agencies. Once locked mode is activated, notifications will not be displayed on your lock screen until the next time you unlock the device with your pattern, PIN, or password.

Tip # 5: Keep Your Bootloader Locked

Android has a system of checks and balances to make sure every part of the operating system is still backed up at startup. It is also an open operating system, and Google has made great efforts to maintain this aspect.

To keep the door open for rookers and boat security alike Google has developed a system that locks the startup chain by default. However, you can use a two-part setting to unlock it, if you want. One of these settings is inside the Android operating system, the other outside in a pre-boot menu called Bootloader.

The setting in Android is called OEM Unlocking. In this case, you can only enable this option if you have entered your pattern, PIN, or password to access the Android operating system. If it has been activated, it has been activated by you.

Once this setting is enabled in Android, you can boot into bootloader mode and send fastboot commands to unlock the bootloader. This will allow you to install unofficial software on the device. For example, a custom recovery or custom ROM. This, in turn, can help you access the phone as root.

To increase security, all data on the device is automatically deleted on the Unlock Bootloader.

Matter: If your bootloader is currently unlocked, law enforcement can easily install unofficial firmware on the device to bypass the lock screen and access your data.

The OEM Unlock setting is not really worth considering, as this only allows the bootloader to be unlocked. When Officers unlocks your bootloader all data stored on your device is automatically deleted.

However, if you unlock your bootloader after enabling [OEM] unlocking z your phone with Magisk – it's a good practice to go back and lock the bootloader when you're done. If you have a custom recovery such as TWRP installed, you should protect the recovery menu with a password.

Tip # 6: Use Cerberus

Cerberus is a third-party app in the Play Store that offers all the features of Google's Find My Device and more. Although there is a monthly subscription, it is a much more comprehensive security software than Find My Device. An important innovation is the ability to send commands to your phone to remotely control it.

When the police pick up your phone, you can use Cerberus to send text messages or send commands to your phone using a browser. With a command, you can lock your phone with a code of your choice that is different from your lock screen code.

You can also remotely erase your phone at any time using SMS commands (or a browser) if you do not expect to get your phone back. Even if they bypass the other methods, there is nothing on the phone that they could retrieve. However, be careful to also delete the backups if they contain incriminating evidence, as these files are unencrypted before Android Pie and can be retrieved by anyone logged into your Google Account.

Do Not Miss: How To Keep Law Enforcement Out Of Your Face and Touch ID Devices

Cover Picture and Screenshots of Jon Knight / Gadget Hacks

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