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Cellphones Data Storage Privacy Security

Wiping a Smartphone Still Leaves Data Behind 155

KindMind writes "To probably no one's surprise, wiping a smartphone by standard methods doesn't get all the data erased. From an article at Wired: 'Problem is, even if you do everything right, there can still be lots of personal data left behind. Simply restoring a phone to its factory settings won't completely clear it of data. Even if you use the built-in tools to wipe it, when you go to sell your phone on Craigslist you may be selling all sorts of things along with it that are far more valuable — your name, birth date, Social Security number and home address, for example. ... [On a wiped iPhone 3G, mobile forensics specialist Lee Reiber] found a large amount of deleted personal data that he recovered because it had not been overwritten. He was able to find hundreds of phone numbers from a contacts database. Worse, he found a list of nearly every Wi-Fi and cellular access point the phone had ever come across — 68,390 Wi-Fi points and 61,202 cell sites. (This was the same location data tracking that landed Apple in a privacy flap a few years ago, and caused it to change its collection methods.) Even if the phone had never connected to any of the Wi-Fi access points, iOS was still logging them, and Reiber was able to grab them and piece together a trail of where the phone had been turned on.'"
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Wiping a Smartphone Still Leaves Data Behind

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @04:44PM (#43341871)

    Did the previous owner use the "erase all content and settings" feature of that phone? Or just restore it. That would have been using the built in tool and would have overwrote the data.

  • Newer phones (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Selfbain ( 624722 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @04:57PM (#43342017)
    I'd be more interested to see if he can still do it on a newer model. The earlier models of iPhones were well known to have poor security.
  • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @05:54PM (#43342595)

    After erasing the contents fill the 3G with music to overwrite, then erase again?

    Pretty sure the filesystem in iOS can have partially empty blocks. I'd make a copy of my music, then run find . -type f -print0 | perl -n0e 'truncate($_, -s $_ >> 13 13)' to make sure that all the files were rounded off to 4096 bytes first.

    I just thought to check for apps that wipe storage, there are several. I should have known there was an app for that. :-)

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