TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Community News Network

July 14, 2014

Why it's basically impossible to delete those naked selfies you text

If you're selling an old Android smartphone on an online auction site, you could be giving away rather more than you intend to, according to a recent investigation by anti-malware company Avast.

Going through phones that had supposedly been "factory reset," the company's researchers were able to view photos taken by the phone's original owners. In addition to the usual harmless photos of the family cat were naked selfies that the original owners would never have wanted anyone to see.

What's more, the researchers were able to do this simply by using a range of free smartphone forensic tools that are easy to use by technical enthusiasts as well as professional forensics experts.

How it works

Electronic data, stored either on a solid state drive or a traditional hard disk, persist even when we think we have wiped the storage device. Many readers will naturally assume that when you delete a file, it has been removed from your phone or computer.

The way it actually works is that the link (or reference) to the file is deleted, but the original file is still there - so that inappropriate selfie is still in your phone's storage even if you can no longer see it in the photo browser. What's worse is that, unless the file is fully overwritten, you may find that the dodgy pictures remain for some considerable time.

The issue spotted by Avast is that the "factory settings" feature of some older Android phones does not overwrite every "bit" of data; instead, it simply removes the file references.

Which phones are affected?

Based on their research, it is only Android devices that are affected. iPhones encrypt their storage, which adds a layer of strong security. So even if you could see that the data existed, you couldn't see what it was as you won't have access to the original security keys.

It would seem that Windows and Blackberry phones are not affected either. Researchers may yet discover issues, but as it stands there are no concerns.

How to protect your data

The best advice I can give if you intend to sell your Android phone is to first consider carefully how you may have used the device. If there are - or were - any pictures or data on the phone that you do not want to fall into the hands of others, then keep the phone, and do not sell or give it away.

There are also ways that you can encrypt your Android, and this is a technique worth considering.

But the only truly secure way to destroy the data is to smash the phone into little pieces, then throw it into a fire.

Personally, I prefer to store only impersonal and chaste data on my phone.



 

1
Text Only
Community News Network
Front page
NDN Video
Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad Jimmy Kimmel Introduces His Baby Girl Swim Daily, Nina Agdal in the Cook Islands Guilty Dog Apologizes to Baby for Stealing Her Toy Prince George Turns 1 and is Already a Trendsetter Train Collides With Semi Truck Carrying Lighter Fluid Kanye West Tells-All on Wedding in "GQ" Interview Tony Dungy Weighs in on Michael Sam Scarlett Johansson Set To Marry In August New Star Wars Episode XII X-Wing Revealed Obama: Putin must push separatists to aid MH17 probe Michigan inmates no longer allowed to wear orange due to 'OITNB' Adam Levine Ties the Knot Sebastian The Ibis Walks Beautiful Bride Down The Aisle | ACC Must See Moment NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Faces of Souls Lost in Malaysian Plane Crash 105-year-old woman throws first pitch Man Creates Spreadsheet of Wife's Reasons for Turning Down Sex 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success
AP Video
Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban Airlines Halt Travel to Israel Amid Violence NYPD Chief Calls for 'use of Force' Retraining VA Nominee McDonald Goes Before Congress Bush: Don't Worry, Sugarland Isn't Breaking Up US Official: Most Migrant Children to Be Removed Police Probing Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch CDC Head Concerned About a Post-antibiotic Era Raw: First Lady Says `Drink Up' More Water Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Holder Urges Bipartisanship on Immigration Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball US Airlines Cancel Israel Flights Obama Signs Workforce Training Law Crash Victims' Remains Reach Ukraine-held City Diplomatic Push Intensifies to End War in Gaza Cat Fans Lap Up Feline Film Festival Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Facebook