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Study: Wiping an Android Phone Still Leaves Personal Info Behind

by Brandon Russell | March 30, 2012March 30, 2012 12:30 pm PST

Angry Evil AndroidIf you value your personal information, you might want to think twice about selling your used Android phone. According to Robert Siciliano, identity theft expert for McAfee, it’s virtually impossible to completely wipe personal info from devices running Google’s OS, even if you adhere to manufacturer directions when restoring to factory settings.

Siciliano conducted an experiment late last year by purchasing Android smartphones through Craigslist to see how effective folks were at removing personal information from their gadgets. Turns out, not very effective at all. But the worst past was that most of the phones that had been “wiped” still left plenty of information behind.

With some expertise and help from a forensic expert, Siciliano was able to acquire plenty of personal data, including bank account information, Social Security numbers, child support documents, credit card account log-ins and other private information.

“What’s really scary is even if you follow protocol, the data is still there,” Siciliano said.

Siciliano’s results found that both BlackBerrys and iOS devices can be wiped clean so long as users follow manufacturer directions. Android, on the other hand, isn’t even worth the risk, Siciliano said.

“Put it in the back of a closet, or put it in a vise and drill holes in the hard drive, or if you live in Texas take it out into a field and shoot it,” Siciliano said. “You don’t want to sell your identity for 50 bucks.”

[via Los Angeles Times]


Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...

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