It seems that these days, every other week technology companies roll out a new line or iteration of smartphone or tablet for the hungry, tech-loving public. Of course this is all well and good, progress being progress and all, however many people who regularly update their devices could be opening themselves up to all manner of threats. What is this threat hidden within our technology? How do we guard against it?
The issue centres around data. Specifically, your personal data. As we use our devices on a day to day basis, the device in question will accrue data on its memory drive. Photos, your Gmail account, login details, Facebook password, even banking information related to playing promotional games at sites like Slotocash or Steam. All of these titbits of information accrue to form what is, in essence, a treasure trove of personal info, data that malicious individuals – hackers, thieves, scammers etc – could use to make your life a living hell. As a result, whenever we’re upgrading our devices and selling, recycling, trading in or donating the old models, if said drives haven’t been wiped, all manner of terrible things could befall the user.
So how do you safeguard against such deleterious goings-on?
For iOS Devices
First, back up all of the data you will require after you pass on the device itself. Next, tap Settings > iCloud, scroll down, and tap Sign Out (if using iOS 7 or earlier, tap Delete Account). Then, tap Sign Out again, tap Delete from My i-whatever, then enter your password.
Then go to Settings > General > Reset, and tap Erase All Content and Settings. This will delete all of your data from the device, but will keep it on iCloud, ready to be loaded on to your shiny new phone!
Due to the factory reset option only deleting the ‘signposts’ to your data (meaning that a truly persistent person could, in theory, get access to your info, you need to do a little more leg work with Android devices.
First, encrypt your data by (whilst charging your phone) pressing Settings > Security > Encrypt Phone. This will let you set a password that will stop anyone trying to recover your old data from doing so, without the password.
Then, go to Settings > Backup & reset > Factory data reset, and press Reset Phone, wiping the device of your data and giving you peace of mind in the process!
For Windows Phone/ Absolute Security
Once again, backup your data to an external device or the cloud. Then, go to Settings > About > Reset your phone, and tap Yes twice to begin the wiping process.
Next – and you can also do this for both of the above devices if you want to be truly secure – plug the phone in to a PC and select the empty drive marked ‘Phone’. Then, transfer a large amount of huge files to the phone, filling it up completely. After that is done, do another reset, and the drive will have been re-written. The more you do this last step, the less likely it will be that the most persistent thieves will be able to access your data.