In a piece with Martin Lewis on BBC Radio 5 Live last week about making money from recycling mobile phones, BT Innovate & Design’s head of information security, Andrew Jones, was on hand to remind consumers about precautions they should take first.
With many companies offering cash as an incentive for people to ditch their old handset, it can be tempting to quickly post them off, or sell them on auction sites like ebay.
But now that data stored on a phone can also include contact lists, passwords, pictures, music, and even e-mail, Andrew’s question for listeners planning to change their phones was ‘do you care if anyone else has access to these things?’
For most people the answer would, of course, be yes. In which case, it’s essential to remember that simply removing a SIM card from an old phone won’t remove the data – much of which will be located on the hard drive of the phone itself.
And as Andrew explained, the diversity of phones and operating systems mean there is no standard industry process that people can call upon to have data wiped for them.
Depending on how smart your phone is, and how computer literate you are, Andrew’s advice was, straightforward:
“If possible, plug the phone into your PC, view it as an external drive and remove the data that way.”
He added: “Otherwise, weigh up the risk carefully and think about where that old phone may end up – because your personal information has a value far greater than cash.”