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UK Users Recycling Old Phones Without Deleting Their Data

Mon 06 Jan, 2014 // Firstnumber Team
Bin bag

Mobile phone security firm BlackBelt has released new research, which shows that a large proportion of recycled phones contains personal data from previous owners.

Working in partnership with YouGov, BlackBelt wanted to see whether users adequately remove data from their old phones before recycling them to friends, family or strangers.

Since they are used for private, financial and business purposes, mobile phones are hugely personal and increasingly powerful devices. As a result, any data that is left behind could be a problem for the previous owner and his or her employer.

With mobile contracts generally lasting for 12 to 24 months and new handsets being released just as quickly, users are upgrading their phones as fast as they renew their contracts. In addition, they are failing – or simply forgetting – to delete their data.

BlackBelt and YouGov surveyed more than 2,000 UK adults to find out more about the public's attitudes and practices when it came to mobile phone data wiping. The findings demonstrated that 25% of users have knowingly owned a second-hand or refurbished device.

Furthermore, nearly a third of those had found the previous owner's contacts, photos or other information.

"I'd heard anecdotal evidence about the amount of private data people were finding on second hand handsets, however these figures throw this into stark relief," commented Ken Garner, BlackBelt's business development manager.

Users seem to understand the need to clean out their data before recycling and often try to do so. At the same time, they do not believe this to be very effective. For example, 59% of recyclers have tried to manually delete their data, 72% have removed their SIM card, and 50% have performed a factory reset.

In spite of this, only 26% believe that manual deletion completely wipes data from the handset, and only 37% believe a factory reset is fully effective.

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