If you’ve always assumed that a factory reset would completely erase data from your smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device, you would be mistaken. The fact of the matter is that it is still possible, even with a full factory reset, for someone to access your data. A factory reset might render files, pictures, and other things invisible from users, but it will not necessarily eradicate the files’ contents from the mobile device’s storage. The key is to overwrite this invisible, but still accessible, data, so that your data never falls into the wrong hands.
Whether you plan to upgrade your smartphone and therefore want to sell the one you have, intend to donate your used tablet, or are going to give your cellphone to a family member, complete data erasure is necessary to protect your personal information.
Below, discover 10 tips for secure data erasure on your mobile device — the last of which specifically relates to businesses seeking to erase data on a larger scale.
- Factory Reset: While you can’t rely on a factory reset alone, it’s a good place to start. Find out where the factory reset function is on your mobile device and use it to erase device settings, third-party software, user information, and app data from removable storage — unless you plan to keep the removable storage to use with a future mobile device.
- Complete Device Wipe: This erasure method eradicates everything stored on the file system user partition on a smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device. Going this route overwrites keys employed to encrypt whatever is written to the user partition as opposed to overwriting all of the storage area.
- Enterprise Device Wipe: Using this method, you can remove device settings, apps, user data, and app data that is pushed to a smartphone, tablet, or other handheld device by a mobile device management agent. So, if a business configures an enterprise email system with a mobile device management tool and then sets up an accompanying app, the enterprise device wipe method will eradicate the settings and messages of the email account, uninstall the apps, and remove connected profiles and data.
- Software: You can find software that will do the heavy lifting as it relates to secure data erasure on your mobile device. There are various options that will help you to remove, completely and permanently, any personal information that might otherwise get into the wrong hands. Check out your app store of choice to find out what apps are available for this purpose.
- Physical Destruction: If you have an older mobile device that’s nearing end of its life cycle, you may render it unnecessary to go through the hassle of erasing data. In such cases, it might make more sense to physically destroy it — either on your own or with the help of someone else. You can, for instance, drill holes through the device a few times. You can also place it in a bag and use a hammer to smash it thoroughly. Otherwise, a third-party service provider can destroy the phone for you. This is both a secure and irreversible way to erase the data from your mobile device.
- Third-Party Service Provider: One way that you can ensure secure data erasure is to retain the services of a company that specializes in this area. Services such as these provide a written guarantee that the mobile device has been erased and therefore safe to sell, trade, or give away. If your goal is to sell your smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device, you could potentially make more money with the ability to demonstrate to the buyer that the phone has been completely erased.
- Encryption: As was mentioned earlier, a factory reset isn’t always enough. But there are some strategies you can take that will add another layer of protection. For instance, something that makes it difficult for someone to recover data on your device is using encryption prior to activating the factory reset function.
- Remove Cards: While an abundance of data you keep on your phone is actually stored in the internal storage on in the micro SD card, your contacts and call logs might be stored on your SIM card. So, remove it before selling, trading, or donating your mobile device. It’s preferable to remove your micro SD card from a phone you’re parting with. However, if you plan to include it in the sale, erase and format it before doing so.
- Overwriting: Another advanced data erasure option is to overwrite encrypted data using junk data before completing a factory reset. This can render it just about impossible for anyone to go in and access your old data. There are apps that complete this function well.
- Mobile Data Eraser: From retrieving mobile devices from departing workers and getting them ready for incoming workers to upgrading mobile devices, it can be a difficult proposition for IT departments to perform data erasure procedures on a large number of smartphones, tablets, cellphones, and other mobile devices. This is why it’s important for your company to consider enterprise solutions that can offer advanced data erasure for companies. Such tools can erase all data from mobile devices running iOS and Android operating system. This means that businesses can eliminate the risks associated with disposing of, recycling, trading in, or reseling their mobile devices.
Whether you need secure data erasure for personal or business use, there are options available that will help to keep your personal information safe from prying eyes and nefarious minds. Try some of these secure data erasure techniques on your mobile device before moving onto a different mobile device.