Recycling that old cellphone? Beware of its hidden data

A report says even when someone wipes their cellphone, important information may still be stored in its memory.

Recycling an old cellphone could leave you at risk for identity theft.

New Scientist reported that many recycled cellphones and smartphones still have data on them, even after they've supposedly been wiped clean.

According to New Scientist, part of the problem is that companies who recycle cellphones use technology meant for hard discs that is ineffective on solid-state flash memory in cellphones. That puts recyclers' personal data, including texts, pictures and banking information, at risk.

One company claims it has come up with a solution to the cellphone dilemma.

BlackBelt Smartphone Defence in the United Kingdom says its DataWipe program can thoroughly wipe information off recycled devices.

"There is an ever-increasing demand for refurbished and recycled smartphones from network operators, retailers and insurance channels," BlackBelt said. "These devices must be thoroughly wiped before being safely redistributed."

Blackbelt claims its software algorithm can delete information on cellphone memory chips. The company said it wrote an algorithm that works with the cellphone's internal protection algorithm to make data impossible to recover.

New Scientist said it is not yet clear if BlackBelt's technology is effective against sophisticated attacks, such as those on a national or state level.

However, at least Britain's government seems convinced. New Scientist reported that the technology is being considered for an award and a potential showcase at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.


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