Invisible tracking software helps to find out what happens to stolen phone

December 20, 2016

[last update: September 2, 2020 ]


Anthony van der Meer – the Netherland based film maker -, filmed the afterlife of his cell phone after it was stolen from him. He recorded footage using the device's own camera and microphone. If the purpose was to get the phone back, he could have achieved it easily. Instead Anthony tracked the activities of the thief for an extended time period to create a 22 min documentary available on his portfolio website.

Find my Phone - Nederlands from Anthony van der Meer on Vimeo.


How is it possible?

The cell phone required a bit of a “hacking” to get started – explains Van Der Meer.

A software called Cerberus – similar to the solution we are using at OpalTec – had been installed on a separate partition of the phone' internal storage. To hide the otherwise obvious filenames Anthony contacted the developers.

Let's get the phone stolen...

After 4 days of unsuccessful trial in a shopping centre finally Anthony had luck and his phone changed hands on Amsterdam Subway.

Every time the phone is connected to the internet, Anthony could control its functions. It includes taking pictures, downloading and uploading files, recording audio, accessing contacts, messages and other saved data.

Gps tracking

During the experiment Van Der Meer receives gps location data from his device, so he knew where the thief lives, where he goes what is he doing most of the time. As he explains towards the end of his movie, he starts to know this person.

Let's stop here for a moment

If you say: hey I need a software like this, you belong to the majority.

The phrases like data collection, privacy hacking and device security are closer to each other you might think at first.

Hacking or security the two edged sword

The recent chinese hacking scandal uses a similar preinstalled software. If your cell phone is produced by the famous budget phone manufacturer Blu, chances are it is affected. More info here: http://thehackernews.com/2016/11/hacking-android-smartphone.html. Technology is good but in bad hands it turns into a dangerous tool.

What we do at OpalTec is the good use

Our mobile device management solutions include many features used by Van Der Meer but this is just the top of the iceberg.

Phones used for work need to fulfill requirements higher and trickier than a “normal” smartphone.

  • Lockdowns
  • Application control
  • Speed control
  • Tracking
  • Remote control
  • Remote application deployment
  • Professional support

Our MDM solutions all meant to make sure your work devices are used the way they should be and with maximum efficiency.

In summary there is a checklist for you to eliminate the chance of theft and sensitive data misuse:

  • Keep your phone with you at all times in public spaces
  • Apply pin code and password protection whenever possible
  • Use unusual passwords that contain special characters, numbers, upper and lowercase characters
  • Use two factor authentication whenever you can
  • Use an app like Locker that automatically wipes the device when unsuccessful password attempts reach a limit.