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Posted May 10th, 2012

Discarded Devices May Still Contain Your Most Sensitive Data

By Byron Acohido, USA Today
May 2, 2012


Before recycling or selling your aging laptop or cellphone, you might want to consider smashing it to bits instead.

That’s especially true for older Windows XP laptops and netbooks, or Android smartphones because they can be a gold mine to identity thieves, says McAfee identity theft expert Robert Siciliano. “I would beat the thing to death.”

Apple’s iPad and iPhone and Research In Motion’s BlackBerry don’t represent the same risk, he says. But you should reset your used Apple or RIM device to the original factory settings before it leaves your possession.

Siciliano randomly purchased 30 used devices off Craigslist, and had them examined with simple forensics tools. Half the devices were thoroughly wiped clean, but 15 disgorged plenty of sensitive data, ranging from bank account and Social Security numbers to work documents and court records…

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