Avast, a cybersecurity software company, purchased 20 used Android phones from eBay in 2014. Even though previous owners had performed a factory reset to erase all their private data from memory, the company was able to recover 40,000 photos (including nudes and kids’ pictures), 1,000 Google searches, 750 SMS and email exchanges, and tons of contact details. So, if you really want to keep your private information to yourself when you move on from your old phone, follow these 4 easy steps.
1. Encrypt your Android phone
You can make sure unauthorized personnel don’t have access to your data by encrypting it, making it virtually unreadable. Those who own a newer phone will likely have their data encrypted by default, but if you’re unsure, you need to double-check.
Simply go to the system settings in your phone and search for the Encryption option. The title and location will depend on which phone you’re using, but it should be easy to find. Once there, you’ll see whether your device is already encrypted or whether you should begin the encryption process. Keep in mind that it takes an hour or more to encrypt data, and you can’t use your device during that time.
2. Remove SIM card and storage cards
Now that your data is encrypted, remove your SIM card and external memory cards. Both are linked to your identity and contain sensitive information so it would be best if they never left your possession.
3. Perform a factory reset
You can now begin the actual data wiping process: Look for the Backup & reset section in your system settings where you will see the Factory data reset option. This is where you will remove data and accounts from your phone. It will ask you to either verify your fingerprint, or input your password, pattern, or PIN for protection before starting the process.
4. Sever ties to specific websites
The final step is to manually remove your old device from Google and other websites it is associated with. Just go to the site, choose your device, and remove it from the list of Trusted devices. And don’t forget your password manager and multi-device authentication apps; sign in to those and sever any connections there as well.
As long as you’ve followed these four handy steps, you’ll be safe when getting rid of an old mobile phone! But for those who are still anxious about their data, just give us a call. We’ll make sure to protect your files from prying eyes, and we’ll even provide valuable tips and tools to secure your new Android device.