On quite a regular basis we upgrade or replace our devices, including smartphones, tablets and laptops, but up until recently not much attention was paid to sensitive data left on these devices by users.
Electronics have short life spans, and often times when we are ready to move on to a newer, faster device we give away or sell our old ones. This is fine, but before doing so, it is crucial to permanently erase any and all of your data from it. Studies show that up to 60% of all devices are sold without the original owner scrubbing the data that is on it. Many people have no concept of just how serious a security risk failing to do so can be. Should a device like this fall into the wrong hands, with the help of simple recovery tools sensitive files containing banking details, social security numbers, passwords and more can be retrieved in minutes.
Data recovery experts from Sydney illustrated this real concern by performing a data recovery process on a customer’s hard drive, USB stick and SSD, and the results were shocking to many. Much of the recovered content includes personal files, pictures and other information that even the customer’s thought had been erased as far back as years ago. With many standard hard drive’s data is not really erased really erased when something is deleted, smartphones, however, don’t work the same. Because it is not a magnetic storage medium, the recovery methods used to retrieve data from an old hard drive will not be effective in pulling information from your phone.
To prevent sending your sensitive data off with your old devices it may be a smart idea to consult specialized removal programs that have the ability to securely wipe any information that could be compromising from your tablet, smartphone, hard drive and laptop.
Now that user’s are aware of the risks, there is no need to panic, because in order to accommodate most of the average user’s needs, current smartphones are already equipped with built-in tools that will securely erase the data on your phone.
How To Properly remove Your Data From Your Smartphone
Both iPhone and Android users have built-in options so safely remove data from the phone, however, the process differs depending on the operating system.
For iOS users, the process is pretty simple. iPhone has built-in options that securely erase everything on your phone. On older phones there is a long secure erase process, but with the iPhone 3GS and iOS 3.0 Apple moved to a hardware encryption on its phones. With this technology implemented all data saved to the internal storage (which is everything that isn’t saved to the SIM card) is automatically encrypted, with your phone using a device-specific key that is never stored anywhere but your handset.
When using a supported iOS device wipes your phone it is actually the hardware specific encryption key is being securely wiped. This leaves all other data on the phone an unintelligible mess that is unrecoverable to basically anybody.
Android phones are set up differently than iPhones, and can vary somewhat from manufacturer to manufacturer. Despite the differences, generally, the default options are quite secure. With Android devices there are two options for wiping your phone:
- Factory Reset – this is located in different places depending on the phone, but can generally be found under something like “Backup & Reset”. This option will wipe everything ever stored in the user-accessible areas of storage on the phone. For the average user, this is enough to be certain no one will be able to access any data you’ve stored.
- Enable Encryption – because Android encryption is not done on a hardware level if you want to have your phone encrypted it has to be manually enabled in the phone’s settings. This is somewhat of a lengthy process and requires a PIN to be entered when you first boot your phone that is different from the lock screen PIN. Enabling encryption can cause some minor performance decreases, and the process cannot be reversed without wiping the phone so it is important to carefully consider these factors before going this route.
Although these methods can be quite effective in keeping your data secure from anyone who may end up purchasing or using your old device, realistically the only way to absolutely guarantee your data is never recovered is to not sell the device and keep it in your possession.
Contact Puryear IT to learn more about keeping your data safe and secure: call us at (225) 706-8414 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.