Friday, 25 January 2013

Accessing Exchange from my Android phone is a bad idea

Google is retiring Google Calendar Sync, claiming that it is no longer needed, because it is possible to access Microsoft Exchange calendars from an Android device directly. I decided to give this a go.

After a short period of searching online for some settings advice, I got my company Exchange account added on my Android phone. It gave me a warning that the account administrator required some additional privileges on my phone in order to activate this account. Though I was somewhat wary, I clicked the "Okay" button and finished setting it up.

As soon as the phone tried to access Exchange, a message popped up to tell me exactly what permissions the Exchange server required on my phone to allow me to access my email and calendar. The first item? Erase all data, performing a full factory reset remotely, at any time, without warning or approval from me, the owner of the phone.

No. Absolutely not. I am not handing over that permission to my company admins, for two reasons. Number one, they will activate it, destroying my personal data along with my company contacts, email and calendar, if I ever choose to leave the company. That's what it's for. There's no arguing here that they won't actually do so, that the permission is just a precaution. They didn't have to request that scary permission, and they wouldn't unless they intended to use it. Number two, I don't trust that they won't accidentally activate it, say, when they're trying to nuke someone else's phone. Worse, there is apparently a bug in Exchange that can cause that feature to activate if you make ONE incorrect login attempt. Our passwords expire monthly. If I forget to change it on my phone when it expires, KABOOM. Factory-reset phone.

This leaves me with a problem: Google Calendar Sync was the only way I could legitimately access my work calendar on my phone, and it is no longer supported. I will not hand over the "Nuke My Phone" button to the company IT department. I am, therefore, out of options.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Or, actually, out of Google-supported options.
PPS - I'm sure I could work something else out on my own.

No comments: