Do a quick search on eBay, and you’ll find tens of thousands of used smartphones for sale. But what are you really getting when you snag a second-hand phone? More than the original owner probably thought.
A recent test by Avast – which specializes security software – saw the firm purchase 20 Android phones online to see what personal data was still left on the devices. The results were shocking: 40,000 photos including nude selfies, 750 emails and text messages, 250 contacts and a completed loan application. The identities of four of the phones’ previous owners were also discovered.
“Users thought they were doing a clean wipe and factory reinstall,” Avast mobile division president Jude McColgan was quoted as saying. However, it only deletes information at the “application layer.”
Some may dismiss the results by assuming the average Joe wouldn’t be able to figure out how to recover such files. Avast warns its methods were simple, and were undertaken using generic digital forensics software that is available to the general public.
Instead of doing a factory reset, those interested in selling their phones are better off using the deletion tool in the Android security app, which Avast experts say does a much better job of permanently wiping data.