Britain’s national cybersecurity watchdog has advised anyone buying or selling a second-hand electronic device to erase personal data or risk hacking and fraud.
“All sorts of electronic devices can hold personal data, sometimes in ways you don't expect,” it said.
“It's obvious that your phone, laptop or tablet will hold your emails, files, photos, social media accounts, browsing history, passwords, Wi-Fi codes, and much more,” it added.
Falling Into The Wrong HandsSince there’s no way of controlling how they are used or preventing them from falling into the wrong hands further down the line, personal data left on such devices could be used to commit scams even if passed to trusted people, the NCSC, part of government communications headquarters GCHQ, warned.
Before erasing data from a device, the NCSC advises people to back up all personal data they want to keep and to make sure they know the passwords for services like banking, email, and social media that they may have been accessing without entering them manually each time.
Following these steps, the NCSC said, the best way to make sure that data is completely erased is to use the electronic item's “Erase all Content and Settings”, “Factory Reset” or other equivalent feature depending on the device. Manufacturers' websites or online searches can provide instructions on how to do this.
Cybersecurity ConcernsThe NCSC guidance comes following the launch at the beginning of the month of its Cyber Aware campaign.
Cybersecurity has become a concern even where devices are to be recycled rather than given away or sold.
The research found that UK households hoard millions of unused electronic devices and that 37 percent of those who said they don’t recycle them did not do so because they were concerned about cybersecurity and potential data misuse.