Red alert! Private data of 500K Android users at risk

If you just sold your Android smartphone, risks are your email, text messages, Facebook key and pictures are still in there, although you erased them.  As per the new research of the Cambridge University, at least 500 million Android mobiles are defective in the factory reset feature.

As per the CNN Money report, a new research by computer experts at the Cambridge University has discover that a factory restore on the Android Smartphones doesn’t format everything. In the research, the experts tried 21 smartphones from LG, HTC, Motorola, Samsung, and Google and were capable to recover Google accounts details, emails and even text messages.

Moreover, the special application “tokens” that let you enter your Facebook and additional social media accounts persisted on the smartphone. Meaning most of the times, smartphones don’t properly erase the particular part of your smartphone that saves all your videos and pictures – completely.

The smartphones which are affected by this include Samsung Galaxy S2, HTC One, Motorola Razr I, HTC Sensation XE, Samsung Galaxy S Plus, Samsung Galaxy S and various others. Experts stated that the Nexus 4 from Google worked best – however, it still had problems.

Experts described that one of the causes for flaw is  because of no drivers installed on phones being mentioned, which would allow NAND chips to be erased completely. Plus, it is quite difficult to remove flash storage entirely and because of that companies have struggled to apply the factory restore feature properly.

As per researchers’ collective statement, “These failings mean that staff at firms which handle lots of second-hand phones (whether lost, stolen, sold or given to charity) could launch some truly industrial-scale attacks.”

The experts, though, recommend various technical alterations to the factory restore option in Android smartphones to increase its efficiency. However, a consumer cannot perform much to avoid data restore. A cybersecurity researcher from Norway, Per Thorsheim, gave a harsh recommendation on this to CNNS Money. “Don’t hand off your old phone. Smash it,” he said.

The Giant (Google) didn’t reply to inquiries for this news. The firm normally recommends trying a pair of gears: remotely formatting the smartphone as if it were pinched, selecting “factory restore,” and upgrading to a latest version of Android which enables the encryption with a password.

However even that is not 100% consistent, experts say.

Luckily, The Giant does allow a feature to prevent your Google related material (for example maps, Drive docs and Gmail). A person can open Gmail, jumped to the front page and “revoke” that mobile’s access to your personal Google account.

Top/Featured Image: By Tama Leaver / Flickr

Ali Raza Ali is a freelance journalist, having 5 years of experience in web journalism and marketing. He contributes to various online publications. With a Master degree, now he combines his passions for writing about internet security and technology for SecurityGladiators. When he is not working, he loves traveling and playing games.
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