What’s the difference between your laptop and your smartphone?

When it comes to information leakage, not much.

As the Wired article shows, cell phone wipes leave almost as much data behind as reformatting hard drives.

In both cases, the user thinks they have deleted data and purged traces.

In both cases, low cost tools can recover mountains of sensitive data.

Thinking about selling that old cell phone for cash?  Or donating it to charity?  You’d be better of getting it shredded…


Few things are more precious, intimate and personal than the data on your smartphone. It tracks your location and logs your calls. It’s your camera and your mobile banking device; in some cases it is a payment system in and of itself that knows what you bought and when and where and for how much. All of which explains why you wipe it before sending it off to a recycler or selling it on eBay, right? Problem is, even if you do everything right, there can still be lots of personal data left behind.

Simply restoring a phone to its factory settings won’t completely clear it of data. Even if you use the built-in tools to wipe it, when you go to sell your phone on Craigslist you may be selling all sorts of things along with it that are far more valuable — your name, birth date, Social Security number and home address, for example. You may inadvertently sell your old photos, nudes and all. The bottom line is, the stuff you thought you had gotten rid of is still there, if someone knows how to look.

“There are always artifacts left behind,” explains Lee Reiber,

via Break Out a Hammer: You’ll Never Believe the Data ‘Wiped’ Smartphones Store | Gadget Lab | Wired.com.