hacking-your-phoneDon’t get rid of your smart phone until you read this.

Nude pictures and other data can be recovered from ‘wiped’ phones that you sell, throw away or give away!

The anti-virus maker Avast conducted a study recently where they purchased 20 used smart phones on eBay that had been wiped (cleaned of all information). Then they had their software engineers go to work to find whatever they could.

They were able to recover more than 40,000 photographs. More than 1,500 pictures were family photos of children, more than 750 were nude photos of women, and more than 250 were “selfies” of male genitals presumably taken by the previous owner.

Additionally, more than a thousand Google searches, more than 750 emails and text messages, more than 250 contact names and email addresses, and four identities of previous owners were also recovered, as well as a completed loan application.

Sensitive information can be recovered from Android smartphones because deleting a file the “regular way” only results in a reference to the file being deleted and the area being marked as free. The entire file just remains where it is until overwritten by something else. Avast even posted how the information was recovered – now on the internet for any unscrupulous people who didn’t already know how.

So what’s the take-away from this? Remove and destroy the SIM card and any SD cards that are plugged into the phone when you’re ready to upgrade to a new phone. And consider destroying the phone instead of selling it or giving it away.