Securely Disposing of Your Mobile Device
by Heather Mahalik, Digital Forensics Expert
There is most likely a tremendous amount of sensitive information on your mobile device. Regardless of how you dispose of your mobile device, such as donating it, exchanging it for a new one, giving it to another family member, reselling it, or even throwing it out, you need to be sure you first erase all of that sensitive information. You may not realize it, but simply deleting data is not enough; it can easily be recovered using free tools found on the Internet. Instead, you need to securely erase all the data on your device, which is called wiping. This actually overwrites the information, ensuring it cannot be recovered or rendering it unrecoverable. Remember, before you wipe all of your data, you most likely want to back it up first. This way, you can easily rebuild your new device.
The easiest way to securely wipe your device is use its “factory reset” function. This will return the device to the condition it was in when you first bought it. We have found that factory reset will provide the most secure and simplest method for removing data from your mobile device. The factory reset function varies among devices; listed below are the steps for the two most popular devices:
- Apple iOS Devices: Settings | General | Reset | Erase All Content and Settings
- Android Devices: Settings | Privacy | Factory Data Reset
Unfortunately, removing personal data from Windows Phone devices is not as simple as a factory reset. More research is being conducted on methods to ensure your personal data is wiped from the device. If you still have questions about how to do a factory reset, check your owner’s manual or manufacturer’s website. Remember, simply deleting your personal data is not enough, as it can be easily recovered.