What Your Old Mobile Phone Says About You

from the perhaps-a-lot... dept

It's been well known for years that discarded computers and hard drives often reveal the secrets of its former owner. However, now that mobile phones are becoming more like pocket-sized computers, it's worth recognizing that discarded mobile phones may reveal just as much. The question, though, is how much does it really reveal. The AP piece here is clearly a bit of PR for a company that does mobile security. They went out and bought a bunch of used phones and dug up the info that was on them. They admit, however, that most of the phone owners did at least try to hide the content on the phone, but with some software they could recover it. As for what you should do if you have sensitive info on your phone? "I'd run over the phone. Maybe give it an acid bath." Now you know.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2006 @ 1:01pm

    Works for Ex-Girlfriends too

    "I'd run over the phone. Maybe give it an acid bath."

    that is sage advice for ex-girlfriends if they know too much about you too. Especially if she's a mistress.

    ON-Topic however, that's a little strange advice to run over it or give it an acid bath... There are legal implications in both of those suggestions.

    If I remember correctly, most states have mandatory disposal requirements for things containing lead, mercury and other such lovely substances we dont want in our landfills>water.

    Not to mention not many folks actually have the acid available to them.. Seems if you try and buy acid in decent quantity nowadays, you get marked as a terrorist.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Bryan, Aug 30th, 2006 @ 1:15pm

    Hammers work.

    Remove the battery smash the phone to bits with a hammer then smash the bits agian. Place all the bits of bits in a bag and recycle.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Mark, Aug 30th, 2006 @ 1:15pm

    Why not?

    A local news station here in Austin just ran a piece on thi. They too suggest that we run over the device with a truck.

    Why not just donate them? http://phones4charity.org.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Poker Wizard, Aug 30th, 2006 @ 1:26pm

    magnet

    I just keep a big electro-magnet in the garage. wipes everything. just dont let it to close to the car. or any thing you dont want wiped

     

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  5.  
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    semi smart, Aug 30th, 2006 @ 1:35pm

    Re: Why not?

    Dude, do you work for the VA?

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2006 @ 1:40pm

    Re: Why not?

    I understand if you didnt RTFA and still want to post, but can you at least read the synopsis? What, every person that works at this halfway house for technophiles is above suspicion? Come on. The entire article is about how used phones can be a security risk and you suggest "Why don't you donate them?"

    OK, here's my reply:

    Article states "Old Toys are dangerous for kids."
    Mark replies "Why not donate them to poor kids?"

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    William, Aug 30th, 2006 @ 1:43pm

    BOOM

    Aren't cell phone batteries prone to exploding if you you breach them and they are charged. That's all I need an exploding bucket full of acid.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    The Man, Aug 30th, 2006 @ 2:02pm

    Rich Arrogent Bastards

    "Why don't you donate them?"

    You think poor people want your old useless crap? How about your underwear, maybe someone wants those too. After you are so great that everyone must want the junk you throw away.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Yo ho ho..., Aug 30th, 2006 @ 2:53pm

    My old mobile phone says...

    ... that I'm too cheap to spend $300 on a new mobile phone -- so I still carry my old mobile phone.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    MEopi, Aug 30th, 2006 @ 2:58pm

    Donate?

    Isn't donating to the poor like donating muffin bottoms to homeless shelters?

    *Apologizes for Seinfeld Reference and makes a real point.

    Maybe I’m behind the times but I don’t refer to a palm pilot, pda, smart phone, all in one, treo, black berry, digital life, as a phone. To be honest most of those advanced users don’t use the phone function all that much so it’s hard to call it a phone. Yes, those devices have sensitive info on them and I’m surprised it was legal to resell some of those devices (thanks sarbanes oxley) but I think using the term cell phone is a bit Mccarthisc, since most Cell phones (read phones that are cellular and are only phones and IM devices) don’t have that much on them.

    *Apologizes for MCCarthy Reference

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2006 @ 3:08pm

    Wouldn't removing the SIM cards/Memory sticks/ etc and destroying those accomplish as much? If we're talking REALLY old phones, sure, destroy the phone. But seriously, there's a chip... that holds the info... on your phone... I haven't had a phone with wholly built in memory for several years (and I am not carrying an advanced phone)...

     

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  12.  
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    PhysicsGuy, Aug 30th, 2006 @ 3:46pm

    Sensitive info?

    it's called a blowtorch... i know for hard drives that data can almost always be recovered unless it happened to get in the way of an immensly hot heat source, hell, with *supposedly* a little quantum mechanical engineering you could rewrite over a sector with arbitrary bits a baagillion times and due to a "magnetic fingerprint" the data could still be recovered.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2006 @ 3:49pm

    Re: Works for Ex-Girlfriends too

    Seems if you try and buy acid in decent quantity nowadays, you get marked as a terrorist.

    or a hippie...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2006 @ 4:05pm

    Re:

    Most phones don't use the SIM card as the primary memory. You have the option to store (some of) your data on the card, but most of your data is stored on the internal memory.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2006 @ 4:18pm

    why not just flash the device? most phone with sensitive data should be easily connected to a computer, takes about 10 minutes to flash and there is nothing but the operator information on the device.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Adam_v1, Aug 30th, 2006 @ 4:33pm

    Great Targets

    I always take my old phones and PDA's to the shooting range and use them as targets, cant think of a better way to destroy them and have fun at the same time.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    zarquon, Aug 30th, 2006 @ 6:04pm

    Re: magnet

    the flash storage on cell phones and other devices is not affected by magnets. you're thing of magnetic media such as hdds and floppys.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2006 @ 7:07am

    I always take my old phones and PDA's to the shooting range and use them as targets, cant think of a better way to destroy them and have fun at the same time.

    Thanks Adam_v1, now the terrorists have won.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Dan, Aug 31st, 2006 @ 7:57pm

    Suspect Study?

    So nobody else that reads this blog gets suspicious whenever a "security company" releases a "study" related to "insecure devices" that their products make more secure?
    Note that while the AP article they link to about their "study" says that "a lot of info is easily erased," there is no indication in the article that any of the sellers actually thought to try to clear the memory on the devices.
    Good info to know/reminder for those who keep everything on their phone, I suppose, but it just reeks to me of a publicity stunt. But then I'm pretty cynical.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    gruffman, Sep 1st, 2006 @ 9:54am

    Re: Works for Ex-Girlfriends too

    Just pull the battery out after you delete all the entries in your phone using the software in the phone. Next donate it to the old folks home in the local area. Unlike the poor folks who will just pawn it or something, they will most likely use the phones to call their kids. Old folks usually are not so nasty as the younger more technically nasty and savy types hanging out on the steetcorners.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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