It would be nice to think that you could sell, trade, or give away your older tablets or mobile devices without having to worry about the possibility of your personal information being stolen and used for nefarious purposes. But the truth of the matter is that bad actors are capable of doing some pretty bad things. What this means is that you must take proper precautions to remove personal data from your devices to avoid being a victim of identity fraud and other potential problems.
So that you can safely unload your old smartphone, tablet, or laptop and move onto something better without worry, here are 10 personal data removal tips.
Erasing data is important and a good starting point — but it’s not nearly enough. When you delete data or conduct a factory reset, you will likely have done enough to ward off identity thieves. However, this action won’t do much to discourage people who yearn to access to your files, pictures, or accounts. Such people can, with the aid of data-recovery applications, relatively easily gain access to the very information that you believed to be erased or deleted from your smartphones, tablet, laptop, or other mobile device.
2- Software Overwrite
You can use software to overwrite information on your device with random data that will make it virtually impossible to recover your original and personal data. Overwriting is a generally effective way to erase data, and some tools that perform this function will generate reports that you can pore over.
Depending on your mobile carrier comes differences in passcode protection. If you’re looking at things from a security perspective, Apple has a lot going for it. For iPhone 3GS and later, iPod Touch devices of the third generation or later, and all iPads, device data is encrypted automatically as long as you have enabled the passcode. The passcode, which requires you to enter a code to gain access, creates an encryption key. So, when you conduct a factory reset, both the passcode and the encryption key will be erased.
4- PIN & Encrypt
For Android devices, it’s possible to use software to enable encryption. It will require a password in order for your device to create encryption keys. To set this up, navigate to “Settings”, click on “Security”, choose “Screen Lock” or “Encrypt Device”, and then create a password or PIN. Once you’ve followed these steps successfully, you’ll need to encrypt your phone. To do this, go to “Settings”, click on “Security”, and click on “Encrypt”. Then follow the remaining personal data removal steps, which may differ depending on your device.
5- Third-Party Service Provider
You can hire a third-party service provider to completely erase your phone so that there’s virtually no chance that anyone will be able to access anything previously stored on the device. The good thing with this option is that it’s accompanied by a guarantee from the service provider. You can even use this as a selling point for prospective buyers since they’ll be guaranteed a mobile device that has been restored to its right-off-the-assembly-line state.
6- Take Out the SD Card
While a logical measure, this is one of those steps that people tend to overlook. You need to remove the SD card from any smartphone, tablet, or other device that you plan to sell, trade, or donate. The reason this is critical is that erasing your phone will not automatically erase any storage products that you insert into your device. Of course, you can use the SD card in any new device you buy, providing that the new device uses such storage products.
7- Log Out from Social Media
Another way you can remove personal data from your device is to log out from social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. If you don’t do this, there’s always the possibility that someone who ends up with your phone will be able to access your social media accounts.
8- Remote Wipe
As the title suggests, a remote wipe refers to a way for a third party to remotely delete the data on a device. Such a strategy can erase data in folders, overwrite stored information to impede possible forensic recovery efforts, and return the device to its original factory settings.
9- Take Out the SIM Card
The SIM card in a device that acts like the brain of the phone or tablet, which means that it’s important that you remove it before you sell, trade, or donate your devices. This small card holds personal and important information that you would not want shared with others.
Use encryption to render any accessed files basically unintelligible. While some devices have encryption automatically baked in, this is not necessarily true for all phones and tablets. So, be sure to take the necessary steps to encrypt your data.
Again, if you plan to part with your devices for whatever reason, it’s vital to protect your data in the event that someone accesses it and uses it for nefarious purposes. The abovementioned personal data removal tips will help you to accomplish this and give you the peace of mind you crave as you hand of your device to a new owner.