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Android Data Wipe Leaves Personal Data
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KeithT494
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KeithT494,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/9/2014 | 12:31:09 PM
Shouldn't be a surprise
This shouldn't be news to a technology professional worth a grain of salt. All non-volatile computer storage, whether it be hard disk or flash memory, work the same way -- deleting the file doesn't make the data disappear, any more than throwing that top secret memo in your trash can makes it disappear. Or taking it home and giving it to your 3-year-old to color on.

Android's factory reset (and the factory reset for almost any device, Android or otherwise) isn't a "wipe." That's a simplistic layperson misconception. The purpose of factory reset is to reset the system software to its original state. It does this mostly by deleting files, and restoring other files from an original image or state.

Factory reset is NOT a security function. If you want a security erase, there are specific tools for that. They use repetetive, slow algorithms to specifically eradicate all remains of the data. Be sure you use one that's flash-memory-aware, though, because the automatic "cycling" of flash memory -- done to preserve it's lifetime -- can render such algorithms mostly useless.

Again, not news to any technology professional worth a grain of salt. I don't know what IW's target audience is, but if there are CTOs, CIOs, MISes, IT directors, and other technology-managing types who didn't already know this fundamental storage hardware fact, our technology infrastructure is in deep doo-doo.
jagibbons
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jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
7/9/2014 | 12:42:23 PM
Re: Shouldn't be a surprise
I'm not sure if Avast has done similar research on iOS or Windows devices, but Android (as well as Windows) does have one thing in its favor despite this issue. A micro SD card can be removed when the phone is sold. If all your photos are on the SD card and you keep it, then the guy who buys your used phone can't get access to them.

Regardless, one should still use a true wipe tool that overwrites the data blocks multiple times to make sure all electronic traces are gone.
Henrisha
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Henrisha,
User Rank: Strategist
7/9/2014 | 1:11:08 PM
Re: Shouldn't be a surprise
It does make more sense to store data (sensitive files, private photos, etc) on a removable SD card. Definitely better than having to go through folders in the phone one by one to check (although it's still recommended that you do this, as a just-in-case maesure.)
MarylandMike
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MarylandMike,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/9/2014 | 2:07:15 PM
Re: Shouldn't be a surprise
Putting information on an SD card is a good idea, but still you wouldn't know if there were 'temp' files that made copies somewhere 'under the hood'. 
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
7/9/2014 | 12:50:44 PM
Re: Shouldn't be a surprise
OK, so here's what surprises me: "750 of women in various stages of undress and 250 male nudes -- from just 20 phones."

Who did they buy them from, a bunch of frat boys?!
SoStupocrisy
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SoStupocrisy,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/9/2014 | 1:33:10 PM
Re: Shouldn't be a surprise
Surely you don't think that only "frat boys" have this kind of material on their phones?!?

I've seen adults well above the 40yo mark with such things on many occassions...what bubble are you living under?
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
7/9/2014 | 1:51:30 PM
Re: Shouldn't be a surprise
Maybe I am naive, but that averages out to 50 risque photos per phone. Seems high among the general (non frat boy) population.

Or am I wrong?
MarylandMike
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MarylandMike,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/9/2014 | 2:05:53 PM
Re: Shouldn't be a surprise
My guess is that some of those phones were from 'over achievers'.  There might be a picture or 2 on some phones whereas others might have hundreds...
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
7/9/2014 | 2:18:17 PM
Re: Shouldn't be a surprise
Mike, that's probably true about the overachievers. Wonder if Anthony Weiner recently sold his phone.
anon1835292002
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anon1835292002,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/9/2014 | 2:48:09 PM
Re: Shouldn't be a surprise
lol maybe all 20 came from him. 
tufurzero
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tufurzero,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/9/2014 | 2:19:58 PM
Re: Shouldn't be a surprise
Infoworld wouldn't run an advertisement disgised as an article. That would land them in trouble with the DOC. Avast probably just replaced their own phones and wondered what to do with them. That is why the story doesn't have a source and the phones have an outrageous amount of nude photos. Writting anti-virus software has never struck me as intensive work. It's more of a hard sell product. The photos must be pictures from Avast's office parties.

I believe Lorna you are right. It is rigged and nothing to worry about. There aren't too many people aware of sector editing flash memory and a simple encyption app can keep the remaining sectors from a wipe un-readable.
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
7/9/2014 | 4:51:15 PM
Re: Shouldn't be a surprise
A few years ago when I was disposing of a hard drive (old and not worth much), I did so with a hammer. I thought I was being overcautious at the time but in retrospect it seems like the right choice.
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
7/10/2014 | 11:21:49 AM
Re: Shouldn't be a surprise
Tom, one of our local public officials took the same tack to hammering out data and it was judged a scandal. Good reason for you to stay out of politics.

Fred Grimm: Ex-sheriff's data cleanup crew hammered away at their job - Fred Grimm - MiamiHerald.com http://ubm.io/1mjEwKZ
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
7/10/2014 | 5:07:38 PM
Re: Shouldn't be a surprise
> Good reason for you to stay out of politics.

As if I needed more reasons.

The article concedes that hammer-wiping is effective and legal. It's also far more time-efficient and satisfying than waiting 8 hours for multiple zero-write passes. Probably the best argument against it is the wastefulness and chance of self-harm. But I'd bet if you put a drive-melting kiln up as a Kickstarter project, it would get funded.
ChrisW967
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ChrisW967,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/9/2014 | 1:03:00 PM
Maths
4 of 20 --> 1 in 5, not 1 in 4.
Gary_EL
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Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
7/9/2014 | 1:36:31 PM
Do I see the next big lawsuit a brewin'?
Did those people whose personal information and embarrassing photos are now in the hands of strangers have some kind of legal, enforceable expectation of privacy after they "wiped" their smartphones? The attorneys must be lickin' their chops.
MarylandMike
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MarylandMike,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/9/2014 | 2:04:53 PM
Android naivete
The Andoid OS (for all it's features) reminds me of an old comparison between DOS 5.0 and Windows 95.  There were some things that simply couldn't be done in Win 95.  The Avast product would (I hope) allow you to delete everything except the default OS.  Some users just want a clean machine.  On my Android tablet, I don't see (or recognize) hidden files/system files, read-only files.  We don't know what is under the covers of the OS, but at least we realize that our photos, our forms are there for the saavy user.
YaarovS134
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YaarovS134,
User Rank: Strategist
7/9/2014 | 2:44:51 PM
You may want to wait for Android 62.x.y.z
it will be perfect except google already knew what time the owner routinely went to the restroom everyday.
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
7/12/2014 | 3:23:00 PM
forensic software
Assuming that people should already know that the reset feature will delete data and not wipe it out or overwrite is a mistake.
I believe this kind of article is always welcome, regardless of our understanding of the reset feature.
 Another point that I read somewhere, it's that encryption wouldn't work, because the key is also on the phone.
I'm downloading a forensic software myself to check what data is left behind after a reset. I will post the results when I sell my phone.
ajar string
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ajar string,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/18/2014 | 11:30:52 AM
that's a good thing
Some on the hill are pushing for remote wipe of all phones. Sure, you can take out the sd, but it's nice to think it's safe when the government goes to take it out - but probably not true. They have already read it.


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