May 22, 2018

Selling Old Cellphone, Laptop? Smash It Instead

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Selling Old Cellphone, Laptop? Smash It Instead

Data security experts suggests that you may be better off smashing your aging laptop or cellphone instead of donating it or selling it if you want to keep sensitive information you had on it safe. 

Windows XP laptops and Android smartphones -- even when reset to their original factory settings -- were found to be the most vulnerable and still contained sensitive personal information that could be uncovered on the devices,  Robert Sicilliano, a McAfee identity theft expert, told USA Today

Sicilliano purchased 30 used devices off Craigslist. He found that half the devices were clean, but 15 of the devices still contained a lot of personal information. He was able to find bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, work documents, and court records on some of the devices. 

Apple’s iPhone and iPad as well as Research in Motion’s BlackBerry were found to not pose the same risks as Android smartphones, Sicilliano notes (although he still recommends users reset the devices to their original factory settings before giving them away). 

Mary Ann Miller, financial fraud expert at Nice Actimize, told USA Today that device makers need to provide more guidance on how to responsibly get rid of old electronic devices to prevent security breeches. 

Until then, Sicilliano says: “I would beat the thing to death.”

Source: “Discarded Digital Devices can Retain Sensitive Data,” USA Today (May 2, 2012)

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