Used Android phones give up a lot of information about their previous owners

By Shawn Knight ยท 38 replies
Jul 9, 2014
Post New Reply
  1. Selling used hardware with a storage aspect is always a risky proposition. Sure, you formatted that hard drive, securely erased the SSD or factory reset your Android device before parting with it on eBay or Craigslist but did the process...

    Read more
  2. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,286   +903

    So would it be secure to, after flashing or wipping the device copy a large encrypted file to use all the remaining free space in order to overwrite it and then deleting it again?

    Could the material from the first wipe be recoverable if I already overwrote the "free space" that had the information?
  3. This isn't surprising. I recover partitions that have been formatted and removed all the time using Test disk. It's rare for somebody to completely remove data from a hard drive.
  4. amstech

    amstech IT Overlord Posts: 1,936   +1,101

    Every single smartphone feeds ALL of your data to Uncle Sam. Every text, every picture, everything you do, from the hobbies you like to the things you search, even your location 24/7. Nothing and I mean NOTHING is secure or private. Blackberry, iPhone, Droid, etc etc, it don't matter what you have or what you have done to your phone.
    Enjoy your new shiny smartphone! :)
  5. Dasdutt

    Dasdutt TS Rookie

    Offering some advice on the best way to wipe a phone would have been a nice addition to this article.
  6. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,286   +903

    I am doing so, thank you though. If someone could reply my first question would be golden :)

    Second that. Or for that matter any device.
  7. 1) Factory Reset
    2) Fill to capacity with random mp3 files

    SantistaUSA likes this.
  8. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,274

    A grinder and 4 lb hammer ought to do the trick, failing that, an acetylene torch.
    learninmypc and SantistaUSA like this.
  9. Jad Chaar

    Jad Chaar Elite Techno Geek Posts: 6,515   +974

    This is probably the case for every smartphone though. Isn't deleted data not completely gone until something is rewritten over it? That is probably the case with all forms of storage, no matter the OS.
    learninmypc and SantistaUSA like this.
  10. Nobina

    Nobina TS Evangelist Posts: 1,336   +843

    Why would Avast do this? I mean it's ok they found out what they can do but why would they get all his data, pictures and his Facebook account and personal information? Did they take some cash from the credit card information aswell?
  11. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,286   +903

    For security research purposes.
    SantistaUSA likes this.
  12. Neojt

    Neojt TS Addict Posts: 223   +56

    Most likely o be able to sell a new software that garanties a wiped phone.

    btw its kinda ironic that the topic says Android but the article pic is clearly an iphone....
    SantistaUSA likes this.
  13. Levi Sterling

    Levi Sterling TS Booster Posts: 80   +26

    Sorry to be Slightly off topic, but that Photo is an Iphone. Please change the pic to something that isnt filth
    mizkitty and SantistaUSA like this.
  14. Night Hacker

    Night Hacker TS Enthusiast Posts: 125   +20

    This information also applies to computer hard drives. I have software that will recover deleted files, even from a formatted drive. There is software for the PC where you can safely erase files that will actually fill the data area of the drive so that it is gone. I don't know if it exists for cell phones though. I imagine it wouldn't be too difficult to create software like this though.
  15. Night Hacker

    Night Hacker TS Enthusiast Posts: 125   +20

    I doubt very much it makes a difference as this pretty much applies to most file systems on most devices, including computers, it just so happens that they tested Androids in this one. The way most file systems work is all your stored files are listed in a directory on your drive, each file has a pointer which points to the first block of drive space the file uses (they can be scattered all over the drive), and those blocks point to the next etc. When you delete a file(s) it merely erases the information in that directory which points to the file and marks those blocks as free to be used again, but it doesn't erase them. You can get software to actually erase them. This is mainly for speed, and under normal operation, those blocks will get used again and the data gone, but it can be recovered. On the PC there is software called "Recover MyFiles" which will even recover data from a formatted drive. This isn't an Android specific problem, it has been around since PCs (and cell phones) were first made.
  16. Darkshadoe

    Darkshadoe TS Guru Posts: 571   +113

    The absolute best way to wipe a smartphone:

    1. Place phone on flat surface.
    2. Take a sledgehammer and give the phone between 2 and 25 wacks.
    3. Sweep pieces of phone into garbage bag.
    4. Set garbage bag in fire, thoroughly melting phone.
    5. After phone cools, repeat step 2
    6. Take phone to nearest water source that is at least 20 feet deep.
    7. Drop phone into water.
    8. Go and have your favorite adult beverage.
  17. Trillionsin

    Trillionsin TS Evangelist Posts: 1,596   +257

    Yea... we need a killdisk app. lol
  18. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +421

    Doesn't even apply to any iPhones, the secure wipe either deletes the encryption keys for hardware encrypted phones (anything from the 3GS on) or it actually overwrites all the data.

    Jad Chaar likes this.
  19. Jad Chaar

    Jad Chaar Elite Techno Geek Posts: 6,515   +974

    Very interesting! iPhones (y)
  20. It's always a pleasure to see the Apple-hating public of this website being told their asses off.
    Maybe, with a great deal of luck, this time they will learn that their constantly negative attitude about one company is just as senseless and annoying as the ferverous devotion others have for that same brand.
  21. Experimentongod

    Experimentongod TS Maniac Posts: 269   +111

    "The guy also apparently had an appetite for kinky adult material."

    Who doesn't? ;)
  22. Amen! I'm a nerd, I like all tech; but especially Apple stuff. It does just work! The whole feud annoys me. I like what I like for my reasons, you like what you like for your reasons. You can try and change my mind, but you won't. End of story.
  23. texasrattler

    texasrattler TS Addict Posts: 253   +77

    Why is there a picture of a iPhone but the article is about Android, really? Might help if there was a pic of a Android phone so people wont get confused. Apparently Apple does not have the issue as one posted has pointed out.
  24. hahahanoobs

    hahahanoobs TS Evangelist Posts: 2,045   +680

    This is cool and all, but how many people are buying used phones just to get data off them? I say none. Hacking iCloud seems more productive though...

    As you were...
  25. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,023   +2,553

    Take it down the corner auto shop and hose it down with an acetylene torch.

    With that being said, wiping the phone is almost exactly like locking the barn after the horse has been stolen. Your little data bits, along with the pictures of miss triple XXX's naughty bits, have all flown away, to the NSA, long before you try and sell it.

    Every phone has the capability of retaining your data, with possibly a bit of help from user, (pilot) error.

    But, man oh man, you can't put one over on you. You know your cell phone pictures.

    Not true, I hate all mobile phones, regardless of race, creed, or national origin, and most guests as well.
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2014

Similar Topics

Add your comment to this article

You need to be a member to leave a comment. Join thousands of tech enthusiasts and participate.
TechSpot Account You may also...