Have you ever sold your smartphone? Well, chances are that any data you had on it is recoverable if it falls into the hands of someone even a little tech savvy. Concerned? Read on.
A little while back, Avast experimented and found out that Android’s factory reset tools delete data only at the application layer. This means that any generic and publicly available tool for data retrieval (i.e. data recovery software and tools) could get your photos, videos, SMS, location data and even Facebook chats without too much trouble. The issue is more pronounced for devices running older Android versions but as the old adage goes, it is better to be safe than sorry.
To stay safe there are a few things you can do. First of all, under Settings > Security on your Android phone, there’s an Encrypt Phone option. Simply turn that on and then delete your data.
Depending on your manufacturer and Android version, you might have to do a bit of digging around to find this option. Without the PIN or password to decrypt the data (which gets deleted in the factory reset), it would be much harder to get your personal stuff from the smartphone. You could also go crazy with loading up dummy data and subsequent factory resets depending on how valuable your data is.
Another option is to use an app built specifically for the purpose of deleting your data securely. There are a few available options for that. First one is Secure Delete, which can be used to delete any file from your smartphone’s internal memory or SD card. It’s compatible with Android 2.3+ so that covers the majority of the user base. Secure Wipe is an app you can use after a factory reset. It wipes all the free space to make your data unrecoverable. Make sure to tick all the check-boxes though. If you like more choice, Andro Shredder is another great option that provides multiple algorithms for data deletion.
In conclusion, the onus of keeping your data safe falls on you. Never assume that your stuff is safe. The time you spend on securely getting rid of the data you don’t need could save you a world of headache down the line.