Recycle Your Phone? Sell it on eBay? Lose it? Still Have Your Data On It?

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Speaker – Expert

Cell phones are the invention of the 20th century. Its a computer and a phone. Its as cool as the invention of the wheel. Its the single most effective communication tool since the land line.

Millions of cell phones are sold every year. Many are lost, stolen, millions more end up on eBay, recycled or tossed in the trash. Many of these phones still have enough data on them to commit identity theft or, in the wrong hands, make your life miserable.

A study done in December by Regenersis, a UK based recycler, tested a sampling of 2000 cell phones. They learned 99% had personal identifying data such as banking info, credit card data, personal emails, contacts, text messages, pictures, music, videos, calendar entries, notes, mailing lists, to-do lists, automatic log-ins for Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and more.

Studies show cell phones are replaced on average of every 18 months. Over the past 4-5 years Blackberrys, iPhones and countless other smartphone/PDAs have flooded the market. All of these devices technologies are upgraded within 6 months and the user wants the latest and greatest.

What kind if data is on your phone today? If it fell in the wrong hands would someone have access to all your social network sites? Usernames and passwords? Customer data? Corporate secrets?

Someone recently bought a Blackberry off eBay and scored phone numbers for Hollywood producers, writers and movie stars Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore and Jude Law. Not a huge deal, but in the wrong hands problematic for the affected.

What if someone got the names, addresses and emails for everyone in your life? Not good.

Its not just cell phones that often contain data. Thumbdrives, MP3 players, are also problematic. Credant Technologies surveyed 500 dry cleaners who said they found numerous USB sticks during the course of a year. Multiplying that by the number of dry cleaners and got a figure of approximately 9000 USBs lost and found annually.

To protect yourself, consider some of the tips below, and this is not a complete list. Please feel free to add in comments.

Don’t store data that will be considered a “data breach” if lost, stolen, sold, recycled.

On phones have strong password protection. Lock it up.

Remove your sim card upon selling.

Reformat the phones operating system multiple times. This generally wipes off the data, but there are programs that do it more thoroughly. There is no universal way to reformat. It is different with every phone/manufacturer/operating system.

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert discussing cell phone security Here

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