Skelmersdale, UK – 18 April 2013: Smartphone defence specialist BlackBelt has today released results of its survey into the attitudes of 2,071 UK adults towards personal data security on mobile phones. The study, completed in partnership with YouGov, revealed a lack of consensus on how consumers are able to completely erase data from mobile handsets. Additionally, 25 per cent of those surveyed have knowingly owned a second hand or refurbished mobile handset and nearly one in three (32 per cent) of those individuals have discovered the previous owner’s contacts, photos or other information on the device.
The survey revealed a total of 41 per cent of the sample currently owning a mobile phone has recycled, part-exchanged or sold a phone (excluding selling it to a member if their family) in the past and can therefore be described as mobile phone recyclers. Almost six in 10 (59 per cent) of those mobile phone recyclers are not concerned about their personal data when sending a handset away for recycling or part exchange. The results suggest this is down to a lack of awareness or concern for the risks stemming from leaving data on mobile devices.
Due to the typical 12-24 month upgrade cycle for mobile phone contracts, recycling is becoming an increasingly popular option for disposing for old handsets. Of those who currently own a mobile phone, 26 per cent have previously recycled an old handset, whilst just over a fifth (21 per cent) have either part-exchanged or sold on a used mobile device.
Ken Garner, Business Development Manager at BlackBelt, says: “In these difficult economic times it’s understandable that more people are looking to either sell on or purchase used devices. I’d heard anecdotal evidence about the amount of private data, people were finding on second hand handsets, however these figures throw this into stark relief. The poll results suggest that people should be a lot more concerned about how much of their data remains on a device when it is passed onto a third party because this has the potential to open them up to risks such as fraud and identity theft.”
Mobile phone recyclers also raised reservations about how much personal data could effectively be wiped. Only around a quarter (26 per cent) of all adults believed manually deleting data can completely wipe it from a smartphone and less than half (37 per cent) thought the same about performing a factory reset. Despite the uncertainties, 59 per cent of mobile phone recyclers surveyed have still tried to manually delete information before a mobile phone leaves their possession, even though only 21 per cent of all UK adults believe there isn’t a fail-safe way to remove all data from a smartphone. Nearly three quarters (72 per cent) of the mobile phone recyclers have removed a SIM card from their mobile phone in an attempt to erase personal data, but less than a quarter (23 per cent) of all adults believe removing this will make their information irretrievable by third parties. In addition, 50 per cent of respondents have taken the time to perform a factory reset.
Garner continues: “It’s reassuring that people are doing what they can to protect their data despite their reservations around the effectiveness. However, we were surprised that there are still some who made no effort to remove their data and this suggests that a great number of us are opening up our data to cybercriminals. This statistic is likely to be of even greater concern to business owners, after all with the rise of Bring Your Own Device schemes in the workplace, it’s not just our personal data that’s at risk.”
In reality it isn’t possible for an individual to perform a full removal of personal data from any smart phone or tablet using a device’s in-built factory reset or by re-flashing the operating system. This is because contemporary devices are fitted with solid state memory, which uses a technique called wear levelling to minimise data corruption and extend its lifespan by over-ruling instructions to permanently overwrite old data.
BlackBelt’s DataWipe has been tested and verified by independent third parties and meets regulations for the safe disposal of mobile device user data. The computerised system eliminates human error to ensure a higher-quality of service and provide a clear audit trail. This protects personal and business mobile data, to eliminate the risk of fraud and offer peace of mind.
BlackBelt’s DataWipe currently completely removes data from Android, iPhone and BlackBerry operating systems, and there are plans to extend cover to additional operating systems and tablets in the near future. For more information about DataWipe, please visit: www.blackbeltdefence.com.
Notes to Editors
For more information about BlackBelt, please visit www.blackbeltdefence.com
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2071 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 22nd and 25th March 2013. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).