Have you ever received a smart phone from someone and couldn’t do anything because it was locked? Have you ever had an iphone keep popping up a dialogue asking you to input a password to an icloud account you don’t own? These are the types of things that happen when you don’t fully sanitize a device. In this article I will give you the steps to make sure that you never have egg on your face when handing a device off to someone.
Lets start with a little history. This holds true for most of the phone/tablet operating systems out there whether it be Android, iOS, windows, or blackberry. When devices were first manufactured like all things in their infancy there is a learning curve, not all problems can be anticipated by the manufacturer. So smart phones made it to the market and on them we linked many of our accounts things like gmail, icloud, contacts, and password databases. In fact with the original android platform it was very difficult to use the device unless you input a gmail account. New to this technology many of us input all the required things and were happy with life.
Within a few revisions, manufacturers like apple realized that doing this was perfectly fine but we really needed to make sure that there was a method to clear all of these settings. This was done via factory reset. A factory reset would now clear all data on the phone and make it look like a new phone from the factory. This was an excellent plan. Until it was realized this really didn’t protect the consumer against theft. If a phone was factory reset now all the traces of ownership were erased.
So where we are now recognizing how insecure some of the reset parameters were manufactures added additional security. In today’s modern smart device you have to enter passwords and/or passcodes to reset devices. This security is what plagues us from time to time when you receive second hand devices that have not been properly sanitized. It was a great step against theft and a few other problems, but created a secondary problem.
Security — Why should you factory reset?
Well to summarize you should factory reset any device primarily for security and privacy. Remember that handing a smart device to anyone and simply giving them your passcode is the same as writing you password publicly on the internet. The reason for this is that void of a factory reset things like your Netflix, Amazon, Gmail, and app store are all still logged in. Netflix is not really a big problem, but if you are into privacy well people can see what you have watched. Amazon and app store, these are an issue because many people will link a credit card setup 1-click purchases. Again, not really a big issue unless you value your pocket book.
The largest and biggest risk is access to your email services. In today’s world almost every app requires a verification/reset email to be linked. So lets picture this example. You leave your gmail tied to an Android phone. The person that receives this phone runs out to social media and resets your password. Now even though you logged out of your favorite social media app, this person now has the capability to take it over. Before you even know, they now own your facebook and twitter account. In addition depending on how other app store like things were setup they could have the possibility to take those over. This is a huge problem as your credit card is linked and they now own all of your past and future digital purchases.
So what is the solution: Well simply put sanitize, sanitize, and sanitize! This is easy to do on an iPhone and android device. – iOS: All you need to do is go to Settings —> General —> Reset —> Erase all Content and Settings. Now remove your sim card and you will be done when the phone reboots.
– Android: Remove your sim card and SD card then navigate to Settings —> Backup & Reset —> Factory Reset. ***Note: DO NOT install your sim or sd card when the phone reboots. You must leave these out.
– Windows/Blackberry/Other: Consult your owners manual from the manufacturer.
Now you will be ready to hand the smart device off with reasonable confidence that you didn’t create a security risk for yourself.
Wrapping this up, there is no reason not to hand devices off to someone else. But we must remember to reset them properly. A proper reset will not only secure our data, but will reduce any headaches associated with a handoff.
Have you ever received a device that was not reset? Please leave a comment and tell me your story.