4 September 2006
Selling your phone? Consider destroying it instead. To be sure you’re not passing on sensitive information stored in your cell phone, the only remedy is to mince it with a meat hammer and dump the pieces in the garbage.
Take a look at what some are finding on second-hand cell phones:
Selling your old phone once you upgrade to a fancier model can be like handing over your diaries. All sorts of sensitive information pile up inside our cell phones, and deleting it may be more difficult than you think.
A popular practice among sellers, resetting the phone, often means sensitive information appears to have been erased. But it can be resurrected using specialized yet inexpensive software found on the Internet.
A company, Trust Digital of McLean, Virginia, bought 10 different phones on eBay this summer to test phone-security tools it sells for businesses. The phones all were fairly sophisticated models capable of working with corporate e-mail systems.
Curious software experts at Trust Digital resurrected information on nearly all the used phones, including the racy exchanges between guarded lovers.
The other phones contained:
- One company’s plans to win a multimillion-dollar federal transportation contract.
- E-mails about another firm’s $50,000 payment for a software license.
- Bank accounts and passwords.
- Details of prescriptions and receipts for one worker’s utility payments.
The recovered information was equal to 27,000 pages — a stack of printouts 8 feet high.
“We found just a mountain of personal and corporate data,” said Nick Magliato, Trust Digital’s chief executive.
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