Consumer Data Risk when Trading in Mobile Devices

By   ISBuzz Team
Writer , Information Security Buzz | Jul 30, 2015 09:00 pm PST

Following Argos’s newly announced trade-in scheme for mobile devices and tablets, Pat Clawson CEO of the Blancco Technology Group commented below. Pat is supportive of the initiative but warns there is a major risk of consumers leaving themselves vulnerable to data theft.

Pat Clawson, CEO of the Blancco Technology Group

“What Argos is doing is a step in the right direction, especially given how the second-hand mobile market is ripe for massive growth. After all, Gartner predicts that the global market for refurbished phones that are sold to end users will grow to 120 million units by 2017. But the only way Argos will see real ROI from this initiative is if two criteria are met.

First, retailers like Argos need to incorporate mobile diagnostics into their business model if they’re going to encourage shoppers to trade in their mobile devices. Let me explain why. For one, mobile diagnostics lets shoppers keep their devices running at optimal functionality – and for longer periods of time. Plus, mobile diagnostics give both consumers and retailers added insight into the inner workings of the device – how it’s running, what types of issues commonly occur, the reasons behind malfunctions and even an effective fix that prevents them from having to spend additional money on another replacement. For consumers, this means they’re happier, more trusting and more likely to spend money repeatedly with retailers. For retailers like Argos, this means less customer service complaints, less ‘no fault found’ device returns and less post-sales churn.

Second, and this is an important one, consumers and businesses need to know that if they’re trading in their smartphones and tablets, those devices will inevitably find their way back into the marketplace. Contact lists, photos and videos, personal usernames, passwords and even bank account details – it’s all there to be found. Plus, if the original owner ever used their device for work, which so many of us do, it could include their credentials to access the corporate network. Unfortunately, many users—as well as enterprise businesses—mistakenly assume that manually deleting data or performing a factory reset will wipe a mobile device clean and eliminate any potential security threats. But that’s just not true. A factory reset only removes pointers to the data, but it doesn’t actually erase the data forever. Without a USB connection to a computer, which can detect all areas of the memory and initiate a full overwriting of the data, there will always be a possibility of recovery.

So both individuals and businesses need to be careful about what they are handing over. And most importantly, Argos needs to provide some form of certification – that can’t be falsified after the fact – to verify that all data was erased permanently. Otherwise, consumers will be leaving their security to blind faith that’s just not good enough. Not by a mile.”[su_box title=”Pat Clawson, CEO at Blancco Technology Group” style=”noise” box_color=”#336588″] aaeaaqaaaaaaaaj0aaaajgm0nzzkmzu1lwzmnmutngzmoc04y2qxltg3nda5m2y2zgfloaBlancco Technology Group help clients’ customers test, diagnose, repair and repurpose IT devices with the most proven and certified software. Our clientele consists of equipment manufacturers, mobile network operators, retailers, financial institutions, healthcare providers and government organizations worldwide. The company is headquartered in Alpharetta, GA, United States, with a distributed workforce and customer base across the globe. Blancco, a division of Blancco Technology Group, is the global de facto standard in certified data erasure. We provide thousands of organizations with an absolute line of defense against costly security breaches, as well as verification of regulatory compliance through a 100% tamper-proof audit trail. Xcaliber Technologies, a division of Blancco Technology Group, is a global innovator in mobile device diagnostics. SmartChk is a multi-channel solution that enables consistent, accurate and measurable diagnostics of Smartphones and Tablets in all stages of Customer Care and the Reverse Supply Chain.[/su_box]