Warning: Giving Away Your Old Cell Phone? Think Again!

Dennis Faas's picture

Credit card numbers. Bank passwords. Business secrets. Proof of adultery. If you give away your cell phone, you may be giving away all of those things -- and more.

In the case of a married man who was cheating around, deleting the information on his cell wasn't enough to completely eliminate the sordid secrets he had stored there -- even though he did exactly as the manual instructed. Despite that, the guy he sold his phone to on Ebay was quickly able to scoop out the hanky panky.

This reads like a bad, cheesy soap opera -- but it's real. And it could happen to you. Even if you aren't cheating on your spouse, you could still be in danger if you decide to hand over your cell to someone else.

Trust Digital -- a company based in McLean, Virginia that deals in phone security tools -- bought ten phones on Ebay to test its products with. Trust ended up recovering a staggering 27,000 pages worth of personal, professional, and financial information -- including the love affair mentioned at the beginning of this article. When everything was printed out, the stack ended up being a massive 8 feet high.

"We found just a mountain of personal and corporate data," stated Trust Digital's chief executive, Nick Magliato.

It's scary how easily this information can be retrieved with the aid of software that can be found and downloaded on the Internet. With the click of a few buttons, a secondhand cell phone can suddenly become a treasure trove of information about its previous owner. "It definitely does not take a Ph.D," confirmed Norm Laudermilch, Trust Digital's chief technology officer.

Even the White House is taking this threat seriously. President Bush's former cyber-security advisor, Howard Schmidt, said that he would enter the wrong password on his Blackberry eleven times to enable a self-destruction feature on the unit. "People are just not aware how much they're exposing themselves," Schmidt warned. "This is more than something you pick up and talk on. This is your identity. There are people really looking to exploit this." (Source: yahoo.com)

There are thankfully a few steps you can take to protect yourself, according to Trust: Users of all mobile devices -- phones and otherwise -- should enable their passwords and contact their cellular carriers about data security. Also, if a built-in hard wipe feature isn't available on a phone or mobile unit, there are commercial products that can be purchased for that purpose. (Source: news.com)

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