Android Emergency Wipe

Does anyone know if there exists an emergency wipe app? The app automatically erases all the data from your phone by pressing the app button.

Use cases:

  • crossing a border when a guard demands your phone (like in China)
  • robbery on a bus or other transport

I searched but did not find.

Edit: Apparently the US Gov has such an app already, as this article is from 2011

There’s a new app being developed by the U.S. government and it seems like everyone should want to add it to their phone for all kinds of different reasons. If a cell phone is confiscated by police or government agency, the panic button app will wipe the cell phone’s address book, history, text messages and broadcast the arrest as an emergency alert to fellow activists.

The GuardianProject has a codebase to implement such a panic button response with their app Ripple, but it only works with apps that include the codebase, meaning, i can’t just install Ripple and put a trigger to wipe the phone, i can only get apps that use PanicKit to perform some functions, so it is limited.

2 Likes

No, there isn’t. I think Kali Linux has something similar, but with two passwords, one for logging in and another one to nuke your PC.

Seems pretty important, I don’t understand why nobody has made such an app for Android.

What’s the link for the Kali feature?

I thought exactly the same, I guess it’s complicated since it probably requires root privileges and enabling it on android brings up a lot of security vulnerabilities, therefore that should be build along the OS. I guess the best option is trying to talk with the GrapheneOS devs and (if the app is already built) ask them if they could implement it as a feature since stock Android will never release such a thing.

It looks it works different from what I thought. Basically what this feature does is that wipes the encryption key (not your password) which is used to decrypt your LUKS partition every time you open it (with your password), so it remains “bricked” until you gain access to your backup of that key, or if you didn’t it remains literally bricked.

good idea but maybe factory reset will do it ? and ofc removed ur SD card

Yes, but idea is something that can easily be accessed in a matter of seconds, factory reset isn’t. A lot of data can still be inside your SD card, keeping in mind that a lot of apps don’t let you install them on the card.

Exactly, the app needs to be easily accessible and work in the background monitoring for the wipe trigger.

Two options.

  1. wipe by using a special pin/pattern/pwd entry from the lock screen. This is good if you have your phone confiscated by authorities and they demand the pin to unlock, in which case you give them the wipe pin.

  2. app button on homescreen that does exactly the same thing.

So it would be the same app, but use two different methods to trigger a full wipe.

Full wipe could mean actually overwriting ALL the data OR preconfigured folders, like whatsapp, camera folder etc etc.

There is an app on googleplay (data wipe screen locker) that supposedly does a wipe when entering a special pin, however it appears to not function properly according to the reviews left by users.

Also on Fdroid there is the app called Locker, that wipes the data after a set number of failed logins, however the problem with that app is that it keeps track of failed logins across reboots, so if by accident you cant login it adds to the wipe counter. Not good.

The solution is there but it just hasn’t been implemented properly.

If there are any coders on this forum, maybe they can take the code from Locker and modify it to wipe using a special pin.

Regarding Graphene, sadly only a few devices are supported, but maybe they could make a stand alone app and release on Fdroid

Locker seems interesting, I wish someone could retake that project.

I’m okay with being only available on some devices. I’m thinking on buying a Pixel just for Graphene, but I think that if they ever adopt such an app it should come pre-installed, not sure it will work on a device without root privileges.

Locker doesn’t use root privileges to accomplish the task of wiping.

… there is a device administration API that allows such a policy to be enforced through third party applications. This is exactly what Locker does.

Locker activates and enforces the security policy that will trigger a full system wipe when the specified number of unlock attempts have been exhausted.

Locker uses the Device Administration API to implement the appropriate security policies. By using the setMaximumFailedPasswordsForWipe() policy the device can be set to automatically wipe after the specified number of failed unlock attempts.

https://archive.softwareheritage.org/browse/origin/https://github.com/Zyg0te/Locker/directory/

1 Like