What is rooting?
Rooting is the process of gaining privileged access, known as root access, to your device's operating system. With root access you are able to use device features that may be locked or disabled, add custom themes and settings, and replace the operating system with another version.
Why does it matter if a phone is rooted?
Rooting is often performed with the goal of overcoming limitations that carriers and hardware manufacturers put on some devices. However, there are many downsides to rooting a device:
- Almost all manufacturers' warranties become void once you root your device.
- If the process is not done correctly, your device could become permanently unusable.
- Malware can have direct access to the device's operating system, bypassing all the safety measures that are in place.
- Firmware and software updates from your wireless carrier may not be able to be installed.
Some of you work with data that Stanford categorizes as Moderate or High Risk. If you work with High Risk Data, you must use a device that offers hardware encryption, that has not been rooted, and that employs the security settings and features that can be automatically configured for you by MDM.
Stanford can determine through its network services whether or not your device was rooted. MDM notifies you of this status because:
- You must unroot your device to remain in compliance with the requirements of Stanford MDM.
- You might not know that the data on your device is at risk — for example, your banking apps, your Facebook account, and anything else that requires a secure login.
How to unroot your device
There is no clear recommendation on what to do once a device is rooted because unrooting varies by device. For some devices, restoring your device to the factory settings is effective. However, this resets all settings and deletes all data on your device. We recommend contacting the person who rooted your device regarding the process for unrooting it. You could also search the web for unrooting instructions for your device.
Even if you are able to successfully “unroot” your device, many Android device vendors embed a feature that will forever indicate a device is rooted my MDM systems such as AirWatch. Be aware of this when making the decision to root your device.
Rooted devices cannot comply with the requirements for Stanford University Mobile Device Management. If you need assistance unenrolling your device in MDM, please submit a Help ticket.