Microsoft planning better anti-theft features for Windows Phone

Microsoft is working on new anti-theft features for Windows Phone to be added in a future update. Much like Apple's activation lock, which was added to iOS 7 late last year, the new update to the Find My Phone would require users to login with a Microsoft account before dong things like reactivating a device. Microsoft signed CTIA's Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment in April and is required to add these features by 2015, so it's a good sign that they're already in the works.

After the update, Find My Phone would include the following new features:

  • Remotely erase personal data from the smartphone
  • Render the smartphone inoperable by unauthorized users, except the ability to call 911
  • Prevent reactivation or setup of the smartphone without the authorized user's permission
  • Reverse the inoperability if they recover their smartphone and restore user data stored in the cloud if the smartphone was erased

Features like this have already proven to work on cutting down phone theft, so they'll be welcome here with open arms as well. The new features will be available as an update for all phones running Windows Phone 8.0 and newer. More details on function and availability will come when an official release date is pinned down.

Source: Microsoft on the Issues; Via: The Verge


Reader comments

Microsoft planning better anti-theft features for Windows Phone


How about parental controls on windows phone, we need the ability to block apps and a filtered web browser. Budget windows phones run really well but I can't get them for my children because there aren't any parental controls!

If you're kids are under 10, then parental controls may be useful. If they are over 10 parental controls are useless. I'm 13. I have my own Lumia 1020, Surface 2, Xbox One and Xbox 360 with Pegi 18 games

Here's your parental controls, it's called PARENTING. Try it, my parents did and I haven't killed anyone or became some failure.

One option is to setup Kid's Corner as the prior commenter wrote. If you password protect the main part of the phone (which setting up Kid's Corner requires you to do) and setup Kid's Corner, then setup their Microsoft account as a subset of yours, it will allow you parental controls. They won't even be able to download an app without your say so.

I didn't even know the feature was there until a 20 something called and I had to call his mom to unlock his device because she accidentally set it up incorrectly.

Neither did I. In 10 years or so. I haven't even lost my keys. I lost wallet in public transport but it was found and returned to me with full content.

You and I both bro. I started with a Nokia brick, and I'm back now with a Nokia brick (Lumia 920).

I tend to lose my wallet a lot. Never lose my keys or phone (unless just around the house). My wallet always falls out of my pocket. I need one of those Treasure Tags, oh wait they aren't compatible with Lumia 822...

I never had lost a phone. Only once it got stolen. Out of my stupidity I left my old phone under a bag in a car. When I come back... broken window and phone stolen. But I'm happy it happened. It happened on 2010, that was a high-end android phone. For a replacement I got the newly released Lumia 800. Now I'm typing this with my Lumia 1020. If not for this stolen phone, I never would have a windows phone

I lost my virginity once, but since then I became much more careful..that'not going to happen again!

Chances are if you are stealing a phone, you are to stupid to figure out how to use the nokia care software

Nah, it is only over for the stealing pesky thief. You are robbing, you still can get the code out of them, or chop off for the fingerprints... Oh wait...

According to the detailed write up of this, reflashing will not be possible without the Microsoft ID. Like Apple have already done with the iPhone.

The New Nokia Lumia 1090 coming to shops next week. T&C's apply. Cellular connectivity is a timed exclusive for the US

Problem is I can't ring it either. I can use other features like installing apps / games from Windows Phone store (Web), erase data etc...

EDIT: Finally its working! Thanks to swapnil wajpe for the link...! 

I wonder why Indian link didn't work?  ~.^

It said that the phone would still be able to make 911 calls after being locked. I'm in the UK - we use 999 here...
So unless they specifically say it'll work for all territories, I'll be working on the assumption that this is a US only feature (for now at least). Let's be honest, Microsoft has a history of bringing the latest and greatest stuff to the US ahead of everyone else - so it wouldn't be a surprise!

You really mean they should have listed all the emergency phone numbers worldwide...? In that context to me 911 simply meant ' emergency calls ' ...

All is fine but there should not be features barriers like location tracing is not availabe in INDIA. So, eventhough there are good features, and not supported in some reagion will of course a point of disappointment.

Wrong! I always carried my phone in the back pocket since the Motorola MicroTac in 1990.
Belt holders and from pockets are quite uncomfortable IMO.
And I have used MS powered smartphones since the Motorola MPX 200, never had an Android device....

Isn't Erase Data already there through Windows Phone website under Find My Phone? Also what happens if the data connection/WiFi was turned off, do these features still work?

Nope, It will not work at all, it need to be connected to internet then only it will work, I think when you lock through your account it will recognize the Microsoft id of the phone only when connected to internet and thus delete the data based on that particular id!
Pretty lame for 3rd world countries! Isn't it?

And if the thief just uses "nokia software recovery" to flash the device back :P ? Microsoft must find a way to lock this too. It would be easy as just "disable the usb port" on a locked phone. Without an USB port there is no way of flashing an new ROM, and no way without to open the device itself to get it working without an valid password (microsoft id and password). I wonder why this is not since WP7 integrated, Many phones are stolen and could be found this way (if Microsoft allows location services on a locked device for the purpose of finding it).

Of course Nokia Recovery and Nokia Suite Care will not be possible without ID owner. Like iPhone does, even if you flash another iOS image you have to put your ID and password.

Hopefully they release an app just like iPhone and Android has.

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Unfortunately Microsoft has not enabled find my phone by map in India yet! So deeply frustrating. Disappointed.

Would be good if it took & sent pictures with FF camera of someone trying unsuccessful unlock attempts like various iOS/Android apps do?

India is one among the largest users of Nokia phones but still Microsoft ignores Xbox music services find me map services and many other.. So frustrating!

More than one step behind as usual. Even 8.1 didn't get a good nod on most recent Engadget review of Lumia 630 which was also trashed BTW

My lumia 920 was washed off bcoz it was in my jeans !! So after sometime i had bought a lumia 520 & an iphone 5 !! But now i realized that it was my greatest mistake in life!!! Not enjoying iphone 5 bcoz my Lumia 920 was better !!

I left a phone at a fast food place and used find my phone to track it down. They person who picked it up pretended they didn't have it, but got pretty embarrassed when started ringing non-stop from their pocket. ;)

I'm concerned about how will this work for secondary market devices. Like if you buy a phone on eBay through one of the multiple used phones resellers, will you have to contact the original owner of the phone to activate it? Because that would be nearly impossible.

I Lost my Nokia Lumia 920. I used find my phone feature to lock and erase my data but sadly was not able to locate it. In India its very difficult to locate phones once lost. I really wish anti theft mechanism should be implemented with IMEI Number of Devices also. Features mentioned above aregreat to avoid others from not using our phone but they dont help in tracking our Lost phone. Thus i remember a security feature in cheap samsung phones which registers your Phone Number with your device IMEI number and when ever there is SIM change it informs you by sending the new Phone number of the new sim inserted to a phone number which is registered once. This feature is really needed as when ever your phone is stolen and someone enters a new sim card to use it you will receive their phone number which you can use to call them or inform to police.

All works well if sim card is not removed, and you have a data connection. They could surely ping by imei number.

I thought the 1520 was an anti-theft device. Too big to conceal and it weighs the Perp down so they can't run away.

Had my iPhone stolen march of 2011. At&t couldn't help me at the time. IPhone didn't had insurance on it and sure wasn't going to pay for a new one. Ever since then I use android and windows.

What about taking pictures of the person who types the password wrong and getting the location and emailing it? Or sending an email and taking pictures whenever phone gets turned off?

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Well you could still use WiFi. And it would take a picture if they turned the phone off and then removed Sim Card. My Android has it.

If a guy steals my phone I'd like to know the fucker can't even call 911 with it. Heck, I should even be able to initiate a remote battery burst or something like that.

I say this because my wife's 920 was stolen when we were in China last november. With a ton of awesome photos that were never uploaded to SkyDrive because of the shitty WiFi connection at the hotel. I want that guy to suffer

How do we know that picture isn't showing someone putting the phone back because the dude walked away and forgot it. Maybe that someone should be thanked.

Good in some ways, but really easy to get scammed as a buyer of a used phone. Lots of people buying ipods and iPhones online that cannot be activated. All that happens is the thieves pass the problem on to the unsuspecting buyer. Most people are not tech heads like most WP central readers, so they would have no idea to ask or check whether a device cannot be activated. This is rampant in used iPhone sales.

Good, because when I used find my phone to pick my phone it didn't actually lock it and the taxi driver who had it managed to call my sister even after I had explicitly selected to pick the phone.

I always say, a feature like this is for the peace of mind. Even though my phone has never been stolen, I'd like to know that in a way, it's theft proof even if it's not 100%.

Am I the only one that noticed the typo? Dong things?

On topic, this is definitely a good thing, although I've personally never had need of it.

This is the only feature I felt is not there when I had my 920 stolen..(I was very sad) Since then I'm on android now. Waiting for 930..

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I Lost my Samsung Focus Flash.  In India its very difficult to locate phones once lost. I really wish anti theft mechanism should be implemented with IMEI Number of Devices also. I used find my phone feature to lock and erase my data but sadly was not able to locate it.

Right now, some one can turn off the phone even if its locked. That is a big blunder if you ask me. If some one flicked your phone, they'd be able to switch it off, and you cant quickly call it to find if they are still around. Perhaps there is already a setting to do that, but if its not, it should be made available.





As much as I support this idea of securing our window phone I feel Nokia/Microsoft are not serious about their customers security. Why am I saying this.
1) Microsoft forces users to have one password if they want to access Microsoft based services be it Skype, home computer, laptop, tablets, even Microsoft outlook! Now if they say the kill security feature will require one to enter the same password for all its services where is the security here? None at all. Because if your workmate stole your company phone and he knows the password then you are not secure at all. What Microsoft must do is stop following Google style of one account for all their services as this makes it easy for hackers to access somebodies information.
2) Microsoft should STOP forcing us using one password or account for all their services otherwise if I lose my phone or data then I will have the right to sue them for negligence by forcing me to use one account for all their services including one drive, windows 2013 etc.
3) Microsoft apart from wanting one to enter password in this new security issue one should also be asked to enter some other details like date of birth or any security question that should be unique to this and not shared amongst all Microsoft products

I think they should also implement to remotely activate WiFi/3G/LTE discreetly through SMS with secret special commands only from Find My Phone service. There are some people deactivating those for prepaid users. Another thing is to prevent it from turning off the phone, this is only effective on unibody designed phones though.