Android News

Droid OTA makes Exchange more secure but more annoying for some users

September 3, 2010 | by Andrew Kameka

Android, Productivity, Tools


Google and other members of the Open Handset Alliance want to attract more enterprise users, so making Microsoft Exchange support is paramount to that goal. The latest effort to secure Exchange has also made its use incredibly annoying to some Droid owners. reader Jordan just let us know that when he applied the FRG22D, the latest Froyo build sent to his Droid in an OTA, his phone displayed the following prompt:

Activate device administrator?

  • Erase all data: Perform a factory reset, deleting all of your data without any confirmation
  • Limit Password: Restrict the types of passwords you are allowed to use.
  • Watch login attempts: Monitor failed attempts to login to the device, to perform some action
  • Force Lock: Control when device locks, requiring you re-enter its password.

Exchange veterans will know that this is a feature that has always been in Exchange but previously was unsupported in Android. However, the recent update has turned the feature and is required for use by default (unless network administrators make changes to settings).

Systems administrators are able to remotely lock or wipe devices as a way of securing data if a phone is lost or stolen. Unfortunately, device administrator has to be enabled to access Exchange email from personal phones as well. Would you want to hand over that kind of power to a personal device? Probably not, but you won’t have many options if you have a job that often requires mobile computing.

“I will no longer be using my Droid for my business email,” Jordan told me. Despite being in favor of this new measure as a security tool, he’s going back to a BlackBerry Curve for work-related email.

“It isn’t Android’s fault,” he said. “Those settings are set within our network, not by the Android OS. Android only allows for those settings to be utilized.”

Frequently entering PIN codes is another inconvenient side effect of the new update. Another person who I spoke to complained of having to enter in his PIN every time his phone sleeps. A quick look around forums I visit turned up other Droid users complaining about this problem and resolving to purchase a Touchdown license.

If the recent FRG22D update has made Exchange annoying for use on your Droid, contact your system/network administrators and see what can be done to better balance security needs and your preferences.