Used smartphones and PDAs for sale on eBay are still loaded with sensitive personal and corporate information ranging from banking records to text messages and corporate e-mails.
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Mobile security software provider Trust Digital bought 10 devices on the on-line trading site and found that nine of them allowed company engineers to retrieve nearly 27,000 pages of personal, corporate and device data.
The nine devices with retrievable data included those belonging to a former employee of a publicly traded security software company, an employee of a web services firm and a corporate counsel of a multi-billion dollar technology company serving the legal market. The tenth device in the test was never used.
The data recovered from the devices included personal banking and tax information, corporate sales activity notes, corporate client records, product roadmaps, contact address books, phone and web logs, calendar records, personal and business correspondence, computer passwords, user medication information and other potentially damaging material.
Trust Digital said the information was retained in the flash memory of the devices because of users’ failure to perform the advanced hard reset required to delete the data.
Nick Magliato, chief executive officer of Trust Digital, said, “Personal and corporate data is being sold on the open market through eBay, and it’s also available to anyone who finds, steals or purchases a used smartphone or PDA from any other source.
“With nearly two billion smartphones currently on the market, the potential for having this information fall into the wrong hands is staggering.”
Owners of Palm Treo 650s and RIM BlackBerry devices should consult the respective suppliers to access the built-in hard wipe function, said Trust Digital. For other devices, commercial hard wipe products are available.