F-Secure is now offering their Anti-Theft App as a free application. We shared the news with you some time ago and now we'll take a closer look at the anti-theft application and compare it to Lookout and GuardMobile, two other popular security applications.
To see how things stack up, follow the break.
F-Secure offers a full mobile security suite, appropriately titled "Mobile Security" which runs $39.99 for a 12 month subscription. They have pulled the anti-theft components from the Mobile Security suite and are offering them for free.
The features of F-Secure include the ability to remotely lock your phone, locate your phone, track your phone, remotely wipe your phone's data, and notification when the SIM card is changed out. Each feature has to be enabled in the settings menu before they can be of any use. On the plus side, when you first install the app you are prompted to the settings menu to enable features.
Imagine you're out with friends at the local pub and when you get home you can't find your Windows Phone. Here's how F-Secure can help.
The Remote Lock feature is rather self explanatory. To be able to turn on the Remote Lock, you have to turn on your Windows Phone's native locking system and establish a security code.
Using a SMS message, you send your phone #lock#(insert security code) and the phone locks up where it's more useful as a paper weight than anything else.
So now that you've locked your phone, you really would like to know where the darned thing is. You should have turned the Locate Phone feature before you lost your phone and if you didn't, your out of luck.
If you did enable this feature, all you need to do is text your phone (the lost one) #locate# and in a short period of time you will get a reply that will include a Google maps link showing the general area where your phone is located.
If you have top secret or otherwise highly sensitive data on your Windows Phone and fear a Tech Blogger will stumble upon your phone, you can remotely wipe (hard reset) your phone data clean.
Again, you have to enable this feature to use it. If you have it enabled simply text #wipe# and your phone's data will be nuked.
You've locked your phone, located the pub in which you left it lying, wiped the data to protect the information from getting into the wrong hands but you find out someone has absconded with it.
Again, if you've enabled the theft control feature should the thief change out the SIM card in your phone, your phone will text a pre-designated number. The text will indicate the SIM was changed along with the new number.
You can then dial the number and tell the thief to return your phone or the more prudent action would be to turn the information over to the authorities so they can handle it.
The core features of F-Secure's Anti-Theft app can be helpful in keeping your Windows Phone and the data on it safe. F-Secure was very stable and I didn't experience any hang-ups, glitches, or bugs.
The Locate feature took just over a minute to reply to my activation text. It placed my phone within a 25 yards of it's actual location. Close enough to jog your memory or get you within hearing distance of the ringer (unless you set your Windows Phone to silent or vibrate).
The locking activation kicked in as soon as the text message arrived. I had to flash my ROM so I even tested out the remote wipe feature. It performs a hard reset on your phone but (and I wasn't going to tempt fate) doesn't appear to wipe the expansion card.
How does it stack up against the competition?
GuardMobile has virtually the same features and requires you to pre-authorize where the activation SMS messages come from. F-Secure uses your security code instead, which allows you to use any phone to activate features as long as you remember the security code.
GuardMobile does have an alarm feature that will activate your phone's ringer, which can come in handy to narrow down where you misplaced your phone. But with F-Secure, you can simply dial the phone and listen for the ring. Performance of the features are relatively equal. Locating the phone seemed to be a touch quicker with F-Secure.
The big difference comes with the price. GuardMobile running $6.50 and F-Secure is free. All things being equal, it's hard to ignore that fact and I would have to give the nod to F-Secure
Lookout is more similar to the full Mobile Security suite from F-Secure, than the Anti-theft app. Lookout not only includes anti-theft tools but also includes anti-virus and device back-up tools. F-Secure does offer similar features but they are part of the paid application.
With respect to the anti-theft tools F-Secure has more features (phone lock and SIM change alert) but Lookout has the Scream feature (sets off your phones ringer in an obnoxiously loud manner).
Both apps are free (Lookout requires member registration) and while F-Secure is solely activated through SMS, Lookout's features are activated via the web. While I like the web portal Lookout offers, a web browser may not be readily available to activate the anti-theft features.
With regards to solely the anti-theft features, I have to give the nod to F-Secure. However, overall it's a coin toss. You get more features with Lookout but F-Secure is more accessible because it can be activated from any phone with SMS abilities.
I found F-Secure's Anti-theft app to be a stable, reliable, useful application to have. It offers a nice tool set to help you locate and protect your Windows Phone should it come up missing.
While there are alternatives out there, F-Secure is free so you'll only be out the time that's needed to install and set-up the app. It's definitely worth a try. While Lookout has more features, it's also free, so there's nothing to say you can't have both on your Windows Phone.
Go to http://f-secure.mobi on your phone to download directly. You will need .NET CF 2.0 or higher installed as well.
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Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.