When you’re finished with a phone or tablet and are looking to on-sell the device, you factory reset it. But what if that doesn’t actually wipe those naked ‘selfies’ you’re trying to get rid of them? That’s what security software company Avast has found when looking at some old phones they purchased from eBay.
Avast purchased 20 Android smartphones from eBay and managed to restore more than 40,000 photos – including 250 nude male selfies! – as well as 750 emails, 250 contacts, four previous identities and a completed loan application. To recover the information they didn’t use anything particularly magical according to Avast mobile division president Jude McColgan who advised they used ‘fairly generic, publicly available’ software, including FTK Imager – a drive imaging application.
According to McColgan the factory reinstall is not actually completing a full wipe, he told C-Net that ‘Users thought they were doing a clean wipe and factory reinstall’, but the factory reinstall is cleaning phones ‘only at the application layer’.
Of course, this is definitely in the best interest of Avast to make everyone aware of this. McColgan points out that the Avast software they supply comes with a deletion tool, which does a better job of wiping personal data than the built-in Android factory reset. Now, to see if or when Google will respond.