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July 10, 2014

Careful with that Android, Eugene

Android Data Wipe Leaves Personal Data

When Android users choose to reset their smartphones, they generally believe their personal data is deleted. But Avast Software, which makes and markets device-side security apps, says that's not necessarily the case. The company was able to recover vast stores of personal data from wiped smartphones using off-the-shelf software. Time to rethink your selfies?

Avast purchased 20 different Android smartphones from eBay, which typically has tens of thousands of such devices for sale at any given time. The previous owners performed a factory reset, deleting all the content from the phones, before selling them. The factory reset option is buried in the settings menu, but it claims to erase everything from the phone and memory card. Avast then used commercially available recovery software to dig up personal information. [...]

Avast restored 40,000 photos -- including 1,500 of children, 750 of women in various stages of undress, and 250 male nudes -- from just 20 phones. Avast also recovered 1,000 Google searches, 750 emails and text messages, and 250 contact names and email addresses. Amazingly, Avast managed to identify only four of the 20 previous owners, but an identity ratio of one-in-five should be alarming to most smartphone users.

Posted by joke du jour at July 10, 2014 06:02 PM

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