If I get a story from CBS in Pittsburgh, you know it has to come from Dave Ries – thanks Dave.
Many folks, attorneys included, think that doing a factory reset of their phone will wipe all the data. Think again.
Research at Saint Vincent College shows that not everyone is as careful as they should be when it comes to getting rid of phones. "The phones of today are more powerful than the laptops of eight years ago," says Dr. Anthony Serapiglia, assistant professor of computing and information systems at Saint Vincent College. "For most people, their primary computing device is their phone. Not their desktop or a laptop, so their entire lives are on this."
As part of a research project, Serapiglia and students at Saint Vincent College tested 80 phones that they purchased for just $83 from Goodwill's online auction site. Using software that anyone can buy, they were able to extract data from 47 of the 80 phones. Pictures, text messages, e-mails and documents were just some of the items recovered from phones that had been given away by their owners.
Before you give your phone away or sell it, Serapiglia recommends that you take the following steps.
- Remove all added storage (MicroSD cards).
- If you have not already encrypted the phone – do so. It will only take a couple of minutes.
- Remove the SIM Card if possible.
- Perform the factory reset. Each phone is different – check the websites for your manufacturer or your cell phone provider. A reset should take less than five minutes.
- Reset up the phone, transfer several large data files to it, obviously files that contain no identifying data on you. Movie files are easiest because they are large. Move as much over as will fill the entire storage capacity of the phone. Doing this will ensure that the previous data stored on the phone is entirely overwritten by new data that has nothing to do with you.
The whole process doesn't take long – and it's a big step toward protecting your privacy. Like Nike says, "Just do it."
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Digital Forensics/Information Security/Information Technology