There is a lot going on the news about the protection of our personal information in regards to certain apps and entertainment on our smartphones.
If you are planning on selling your old smartphone for something new, how should you go about protecting your private data? Are there certain things that you should be aware of? The answer is yes, there are certain steps that you should take, but to see how serious this process is, let’s take a look at a telling sample size.
Avast is a security company that provides services in protecting your identity and personal information online. In their study, they picked up 20 smartphones from a pawnshop.
On these 20 phones, Avast found more than 2,000 personal photos, emails, and text messages. Even though the pawnshop owners said that these phones were reset to factory settings and wiped of previous owners’ data, Avast found it differently. Avast found that half of the phones that had been reset still suffered from a bug in an outdated version of Android, which left their data vulnerable to recovery even after being deleted.
Additionally, 12 of the 20 phones examined weren’t actually factory-reset. On some, owners tried to delete their files manually, but researchers were able to use free data recovery tools to find the deleted files.
If you are now concerned how to properly rid your phone of any personal data, here is what you can do for each type of phone:
The simplest way to wipe an Android device is to perform a factory reset. However, as the researchers at Avast pointed out, that might not always be sufficient. For example, a factory reset clears the data at the application level. So that means information like SMS and chat messages can be recovered.
To effectively wipe an Android device, you’ll need to complete a slightly longer process. Encrypting your device and then performing a factory reset can do that.
If you want to add another layer of protection, you can load a set of dummy data on your phone. This would include adding including fake photos and contacts and then perform another factory reset. This will make it even harder for someone to access the real data buried below the dummy data.
As a further step of protection, you can revoke the device’s access to services like Gmail and Facebook via the account settings on each service’s website after you’ve wiped the data.
iOS devices that support iOS 5 or later include hardware encryption when you set a passcode. If you properly wipe your iPhone, the encryption key will also be overwritten, which will make it very difficult for anyone to recover your data.
However, before you begin resetting your phone, make sure you turn off the Find My iPhone feature in the phone’s settings. After that is completed, sign off iCloud in the settings. If you delete all of your data manually without signing out of iCloud, that will also delete all of the content from iCloud, which is something you want to avoid.
After that, you’ll want to sign out of all the other devices your phone is connected to. That would mean signing out of iMessage, Apple ID, apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other apps on your phone.
Then you’ll go to the general section of your phone’s settings and then tap reset and then erase all content and settings. If you’ve registered the iPhone with Apple by its serial number, remove it from your support profile by logging in with your Apple ID at supportprofile.apple.com.