Rafael Cavalcanti

Linux enthusiast and human being.

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An anti-theft measure on Xiaomi phones
Jul 7, 2019
2 minutes read

Today I want to share an idea that I had long ago that may help you secure your device against people forcing you to unlock it.

If you happen to have a Xiaomi phone, you might know that MIUI has a feature called Second Space. That’s basically Android letting you create a second user for your device. However, Xiaomi’s implementation has an interesting difference to AOSP’s.

Setting the Second Space, you are asked for a new pin to be used by that user. When you unlock your phone, MIUI will take you to the default user or to the secondary depending on which pin you type. That, as far as I remember, isn’t the behaviour on AOSP, on which you need to unlock the current user in order to switch to another one, through the notification shade.

That’s interesting. Knowing that behaviour, I saw a possiblity to use it to protect your data if someone forcefully asks you for your pin - a thief for example.

Set the Second Space and don’t place any personal data in there. Go on with your life. Now, when asked about your passphrase, just give them the secondary pin. The phone will unlock, making them probably happy, but still they won’t have any access to your data and apps. Nice, uh?

The caveat I’ve experienced is that, if you have been using the main user normally and then enters the Second Space pin, the phone will usually take a lot longer to unlock. It’s also possible that the main user suffers some performance penalties for having enabled the Second Space, but I haven’t measured it.

I hope this tip helps someone. :-)



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