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Keeping my Treo Safe

The other night disaster almost struck as I inadvertently left my Treo on the table at a restaurant.  Luckily nothing happened as it only took me a couple of minutes to realise what an idiot I had been and promptly sprinted back in the restaurant to embrace the beloved Treo that I had left behind.

With my heart still pounding, my mind began to ponder about all the ‘what if’s’.  What if I had completely forgotten it, left it behind and someone had decided to misappropriate it?  What if I really ‘lost’ it?  What if it got stolen?  The fact is that I didn’t have a ‘what if’ contingency plan and so I set out to find some security solution to protect the confidential data on my Treo should a situation like this (God forbid) ever occur.

I was led to test mSafe ($16.99) because I had previously heard some people raving about it.  As I researched, I was further delighted to learn that mSafe had been specifically designed for the Treo by taking advantage of its wireless capabilities for security purposes.

Aside from the normal ‘phone locking’ functionality, the thing that separates mSafe from other applications in this category is that it enables you to remotely secure your Treo by simply sending a ‘special’ SMS message to it. 

mSafe Setup
After installation, the first thing you’ll need to do is setup the ‘system unlocking password’ which can be done either via mSafe’s main screen or the default Treo Security application since both applications conveniently use the same settings.

The main screen is also where you’ll be able to select whether you want to ‘show’ your records marked as Private, immediately lock your device by pressing the ‘Lock Now’ padlock graphic and also access the additional local and SMS security settings (see below).

The local security functionality enables you to lock your Treo:

  1. When wireless mode is disabled (the phone is turned off or the SIM card removed)
  2. When network coverage is lost
  3. After a system reset
  4. When the SD card is removed

Additionally, you can also disable the SD card slot when your Treo is locked – presumably so that nobody can initiate an autorun application from it.

The wireless security functionality enables you to:

  1. Lock your Treo + wipe or unmount your SD card
  2. Wipe all the data on your Treo + wipe or unmount your SD card

Additionally, you can set it so that an SMS reply message is sent to you and/or also another cellphone number confirming that the lock/wipe instructions have been successfully received.

Default Security Setup
It’s funny how I had never previously even opened the standard Security application on the Treo – like I mentioned, the issue had never previously come up…

Here I discovered that I could set certain locking features whereby my Treo would automatically lock either:

  1. Never
  2. On Power Off
  3. At a preset time (say 11pm every day)
  4. After a preset delay (where the Treo is ‘inactive’ for more than xx minutes or hours)

My Setup Preferences
I did the following:

  1. Set the standard Security setting to automatically lock my Treo ‘After a preset delay’ of 1 hour.
  2. I enabled all of mSafe’s local settings to lock my Treo on ‘Wireless Mode Off’ + ‘On lost network coverage’ + ‘After System Reset’ + ‘When SD Card is removed’ and also ‘Disable SD Card when locked’.
  3. I also enabled all of mSafe’s SMS settings with an automatic ‘Reply to’ sent to my brother’s cellphone number.

I set the standard automatic lock to 30 minutes because I thought that this would be a sufficiently ‘safe’ period and also because I didn’t want to have to enter my password pretty much every time that I switched my Treo on.  The safest method would of course be to set my Treo to lock immediately on every Power Off though.

In Action
So, all of mSafe’s and the standard Security features and functionalities seem pretty impressive but how do they work in practice?

Well, for argument sake, let’s assume that my Treo has been ‘lost’.  Whoever turned it on would see the screen to the right with my name, telephone number and email so that if they’re honest could very easily return it to me.

But what if the person is not that honest or if my Treo has been stolen outright?  Well then I can immediately action the SMS part of mSafe.  By sending an SMS with the specific text “mSafe Lock LOCKING-PASSWORD” to lock my Treo remotely or “mSafe Lock WIPE-PASSWORD” (where you set your own locking or wiping password is) then at least you’ll be happy in the knowledge that they haven’t been able to get at the data on your Treo.  Additionally, if the person hasn’t removed the SD card from its slot you can also choose to completely wipe the SD card remotely.

Based on my own overall security settings, a thief would have 30 minutes or less to play around with my Treo before it would either automatically be locked locally or remotely via the SMS that I send.

I don’t know about you but the simple fact of knowing that I’ve done ‘something’ to protect my Treo already makes me feel a whole lot better…

mSafe [Treonauts Software Store]

Treonauts Security
Have you ever 'lost' your Treo?

Yes - Lost
Yes - Stolen
Yes - Other
No
Click Here To View Current Results

Treonauts will do whatever it takes to protect their beloved


Posted by Andrew on June 23, 2005 at 02:16 PM

Treo Software | Utilities

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Comments

1
by Dan Nimtz | Jun 23, 2005 2:44:25 PM

I went thru a similiar thought process a few weeks back. However, I decided to purchase TealLock since it had far more robust locking options, and since the default Palm security app would not reliably lock the Treo. This might possibly be due to the "inactivity" being reset since I run Chatter, etc in the background. I also installed TreoHelper (free) to handle the locking via SMS message. It does not have all the features of mlock, but covers what I needed.

2
by Scotty | Jun 23, 2005 2:50:30 PM

DevGuard is finally in beta by MantraGroup and looking pretty good.

http://www.mantragroup.com/devguard.htm

3
by A. Davis | Jun 23, 2005 5:13:32 PM

Of course, if think its stolen and not simply lost and choose to send it the "wipe" password and have it wipe the phone and SD card, then you find the phone, you're a little screwed as the only recovery options are to re-sync. Most backup s/w's (such as BackupMan which I use) backup to the SD card. If you lose these by wiping the card, re-syncing is the only choice. Still, better to be safe than sorry...

I use a more simple tool called RemoteLock (http://pdatopsoft.com/PalmOS/Remote-Lock-for-Treo) made by the same guy that makes TreoAlarm (my preferred Alarm and current weather application). It lacks all the advanced features of the others, but for a cheap, no-frills solution, gets the job done fairly well.

Lastly, have any of you considered the possible "hack" risk associated with these remote lock s/w's. Think about it... what happens when your friend decides a play a prank on you and SMS your wipe code? Or worse, what happens when the wipe code is randomly sent and parsed incorrectly. For example, I used an earlier version of a remote lock s/w and set my remote lock code to my zip code for testing. I then SMS'd my zip to me and it locked it just fine. Then I sent another SMS with a long sentence that contained my zip code. Guess what? It still locked the phone. My point??? Whenever you use something like this, A) fully test it and B) use a randomly generated phrase... heck get a s/w that makes random passphrases. An an example, making a *Yoda Style* phrase like "green the hills bright are" is a lot less likely to result in an accidental wipe than a phrase like "the hills are bright green".

4
by Cripple | Jun 23, 2005 9:43:57 PM

Using your settings for Standard Security Feature, If a thief got your Treo within the 30mins, as long as he kept using it he'd have use of your Treo until it ran out of battery, not just 30mins of use as you said. Also, if he knows palm devices, the first he'll do is goto your security app and turn off phone locking. Delete mSafe or any other security application. Even if he got it after 30mins, He just does a Hard Reset and he has himself the best SmartPhone on the planet, but your information would be safe.
Most laptops have System lock and Hard disk Lock passwords in the Bios. It's a bit more secure. And most Phones have a PhoneLock (on top the SIM lock) feature, which prevents recognition of a different SIM without a password. I think these security features are required on the Treo. Perhaps in the next version.

5
by Dave | Jun 24, 2005 3:28:50 AM

I have tried mSafe-liked it but like MantraGroup's DeviceGuard better. Known for their Palm IM - Causerie and CallShield, MG (http://www.mantragroup.com) touted the availability of DeviceGuard at the end of this year. However, it was released last week in the forums. We are now trying it for our enterprise. DeviceGuard sents confirmation to the user back after the device has been locked. However, the drawback is that it has to be integrated to Causerie.

mSafe is cool too but I did not like the SD card capabilities. It does not delete the traces completely which deviceguard did. **Beware**, DeviceGuard is still in beta and I think MG takes a *long* time most of the time to release after beta stage.

6
by Geoff | Jun 24, 2005 7:34:21 AM

I use onlyme (http://www.tranzoa.com/onlyme/onlyme.htm) very secure indeed. with a nifty optional feature that unlocks it with first letter of password - if you are very quick

7
by Andrew | Jun 24, 2005 2:39:41 PM

Dan, Scotty, A.Davis, Dave - thanks all for all the other security options that you mention. It's really interesting to hear how you personally use these.

Cripple - thanks for thinking like a thief! ;-) You're absolutely right and I admit that you got me - I simply didn't think that someone could so easily delete mSafe and so I've now changed my settings to 'lock on power off'.

Cheers, A.

8
by Rajat | Jun 25, 2005 4:12:56 PM

Talkin about security, here's my pt of view.
although currently i own a treo, but in recent past i have been an advance user of series 60 based smartphones. And the thing i MOST miss about them in Treo is SECURITY! I'll show u how:

1. There's a security software called PhoneSecure (http://www.wildpalm.co.uk/PhoneSecure.html , site surprisingly doesn’t explain the features discussed below!). Here's how it makes a difference:

PhoneSecure Automatically sends an SMS to a predefined number when the SIM is changed or when the phone is turned ON.

The SMS that it sends contains following two most important piece of information:

- New SIM No.
- Area Code (tell this to the GSM service provider, and they will tell you the location where the SIM is being used at!)
Here location refers to the name of the area (can be a street, a locality, a landmark etc) assigned by GSM provider to the Area Code.

Now just imagine how helpful could this be.
- You always know which SIM number is on your phone.
- You can get to know where your phone is, through Area Code!
- Frustrates the Thief!

Now, if this info matches to one of your jealous colleagues (or anyone you know about), then u r t best Detective Agent in the world.

Otherwise u still have some v important info to start with in the process of finding your phone.

To add more to the nightmare of the thief, Nokia phones do not have a hard reset option!!! (Although, there’s a way to get around with phonesecure, but I wont disclose here, as few people know about it.)

Phonesecure restarts with phone and doesn’t wait to activate security if last time password was not entered successfully (in case of soft reset). Also, it has basic SMS locking & unlocking capabilities.


2. In my search, there’s no application for treo that can hide the SMS from a predefined contact automatically when received. Instead, if I make a contact private, its name and phone number is displayed in messaging application, phew! (whats the use???)

Instead look at MUMsms (http://my-symbian.com/7650/applications/applications.php?fldAuto=940&faq=5) for series 60.

Besides security, there are many things I miss in Treo :(, hope to get soon :)
Like,
- Advance Call Manager (http://www.webgate.bg/products&rmenu=1&rsmenu=1)
- MiniGPS (http://www.psiloc.com/index.html?action=ShowArticleItem&ida=154)
- PowerDictaphone (http://www.symbianware.com/product.php?id=pdictaphone60&pl=n6600)
- And more n more….


In terms of age, Symbian is a baby as compared to Palm. But I think Symbian has more number of USEFUL n FUN softwares then Palm! (99% of you will disagree on this, I know).

But every device has its own uniqueness… Actually, the reason of my disappointment is that before buying treo I was told that Treo can do everything that nokia can do plus lots more than that.

Well, after getting to the skin of both typo phones I do give treo a upper hand. Its definitely OVERALL better than any nokia or any other smartphone in world, treonauts know that! It will go endless if i start talking about Treo(Cheetah)'s features over Nokia(snail).
Phew, it has been v long!

9
by Neal | Jun 26, 2005 1:59:09 PM

I love all the info I've been getting from Treonauts since I found it! Now I have a question for you. I occasionally read about viruses attacking handhelds now so I started looking for an anti-virus software package for my 650. I found several for Pocket PC and Symbian but only one for Palm, Symantec Antivirus for Handhelds Annual Edition. After downloading it I tried to install it and it gave me an error message saying it couldn't find the Palm directory and said to ensure that Hotsync Manager is installed. It is and I hotsync regularly. 3 hours of a run around by Symantec Support gave me no answers as the what the problem is. Anybody have an idea about what is wrong or where to find a better product? Do you recommend using an anti-virus software on it or not?

Thanks,
Neal

10
by John Prichard | Jul 1, 2005 12:00:17 PM

If you using your Treo for corporate email then many of the mobile servers that offer email also offer remote wipe. We use Goodlink software that encrypts notes, contacts, calendar, and email (all the outlook functions) as well as putting its own lock on the Treo. Thus we are able to enforce a mandatory lock (employee steering committee said no less than 1 hour and no mandatory password change but must be 4 characters and no multiple letters) that can't be broken even if you take it apart. However we were not able to get agreement to a must lock once in 24 hrs that would help defeat keeping it going. So far only one remote wipe on over a hundred traveling Treos.

John

11
by Jeff | Aug 23, 2005 7:24:26 PM

I've installed mSafe and found a moderate problem when testing the product. I sent a locking SMS to my Treo650 using the Sprint email interface (messaging.sprintpcs.com). The locking function works but it seems that the Treo locks before sending an acknowledgment message back to Sprint. Since the Sprint servers don't know that the locking message has been received, it repeatedly sends the locking message waiting for proof that the message was received by the phone. You end up in a cycle where you unlock the phone and soon another relocking SMS is received.

I changed the locking password on mSafe after a while and the next locking message was received, put in the SMS inbox and the proper acknowledgment sent. This satisfied the Sprint servers so they stopped sending more messages.

It would seem that mSafe needs to send an acknowledge a receipt of the SMS BEFORE it locks the Treo. I've posted this to their support line as well.

12
by sameer qureshi | Sep 12, 2005 10:01:21 PM

I ended up locking my treo and I cant remember the 4 digit security code. HOw can I unlock the phone, someone help

13
by SC | Jan 13, 2006 12:14:54 PM

Does anyone know if sprint enabled treo's (650) allows you to see what state/city an area code belongs to? My old Sanyo phone would tell me which state an area code belonged to that I was calling. Thanks.

14
by Mike | Mar 23, 2006 7:39:25 PM

I have a question. I have a Treo 700 and we supply for our remote sales team. However you can imagine the turn around in sales. With that said if a sales person leaves the company or is fired how can we secure the phone as well as wiping out the data if possible.

15
by Stephen | Apr 10, 2006 2:48:46 PM

I really need anti-virus software for my TREO 700. Anyone know where I can buy it?

16
by Faye | Aug 17, 2006 10:56:01 PM

Even if you run security programs on your Treo, your data can get stolen from your PC when you Hotsync.

59% of Windows users had a virus infection in the past 2 years or a spyware infection in the past 6 months (according to Consumer Reports, Sept. 2006 Issue) -- so your best bet might be to use non-Windows OS.

But if you MUST use Windows, then checkout:

http://www.innersafe.com/palm_desktop

Especially the 1st Flash video at:
http://www.innersafe.com/palm_desktop/videos

Even if you use Apple or Linux, the website is worth reading because you'll learn a lot about security gaps you probably didn't know most security products fail to address these days.

Good luck and don't become a "spear phishing" victim!

17
by cicdude | Jan 22, 2007 12:31:21 PM

Does anyone have other recommendations? mantra's webpage is not working.....msafe seems like the only thing out there for a treo 650

18
by Vianka | Feb 4, 2007 2:02:15 AM

I ended up locking my treo and I cant remember the 4 digit security code. How can I unlock the phone, someone help

19
by Jenn | Jan 29, 2008 8:21:43 PM

Hi. I got my used TREO 650, it kept asking me for 4-digit UNLOCK PHONE CODE.. I cant get a hold of the previous owner,,, PLEASE HELP... :(( :((

20
by simon | Apr 12, 2008 4:04:21 PM

Av got treo 650 which is already infected by a virus from internet. I need the best virus cleaner which I can download from internet for free. Av tried to get one invain pliz help me.

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