A study has found that factory reset secondhand smartphones still possess a lot of their previous owners’ information. As proven by the study referenced below, gaining access isn’t as hard as you might think.
Anti-virus company Avast recently purchased secondhand Android smartphones on eBay to see how much of their previous owners’ data still remained on the device.
From the 20 smartphones which were purchased, Avast was able to recover a staggering amount of data. This included over 40,000 photos (250 of which were nude selfies), the identities of four of the previous owners and over 700 emails and text messages.
Being one of the largest anti-virus and digital security companies in the world, you might assume that they had access to tools which aren’t available to everyone. Unfortunately this isn’t true, as an Avast representative stated that the software used was “fairly generic” and “publicly available”.
So, if using your phone’s inbuilt factory reset doesn’t delete your personal information, what can you do?
Well, firstly iPhone and iPad users can breathe a sigh of relief, as encryption, where data is scrambled when it’s transmitted, is built into your device and turned on automatically.
Android users have a couple of options, Avast has said that its anti-theft app comes with more effective deletion tool. It’s available for Android on the Google Play Store.
In response, Google has stated that its recent software is not vulnerable and users running Android 4.0 or later should be safe with the standard factory reset tool. But it still recommendeds you encrypt your smartphone before you sell it.
This can be done by going to Settings > More > Security > Encrypt Device. This setting will require you to enter a password each time you turn on your phone to unencrypt your data.