For our first monthly cyber theme, we have focused on an issue that will relate to anyone who may have received a new smartphone or tablet for Christmas – what do you do with your old one? It’s an important consideration for businesses too, as they look to upgrade or replace their existing assets. Whether you sell it, give it away or recycle it, have you ever stopped to think about how much personal data your devices hold and how valuable they could be to a cyber criminal?
All technology has a shelf life. Over time, you may find that your device becomes slower as you run out of storage space or that you can’t download the latest app. You may even find that the vendor no longer supports your device.
So, what should you do with it and how can you make sure that you are not handing over all of your personal data to the wrong people?
First of all, if you are replacing your existing device, make sure that all information is thoroughly wiped. To do this, reset it to factory default settings so that anyone who uses the device in the future cannot recover anything you previously stored on it. We have recently published guidance on how to do this for devices using both Apple and Android operating systems. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) also has some useful information.
If you are planning on destroying the device, consider using a company specialising in data destruction who follow recognised industry standards, such as those published by the Asset Disposal and Information Security Alliance (ADISA). These companies break each device into 6mm fragments – a jigsaw puzzle that even the most hardened cyber criminal would be reluctant to attempt.
But what about our new devices? What can we do to reduce our vulnerability to cyber crime? Start with a secure platform and it will be much easier to maintain. The following are some useful considerations to think about.
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