Factory restored Android deviceAccording to security software vendor Avast, it is quite possible to retrieve a significant amount of data from a factory restored Android device. When selling your old smartphone or tablet, it is prudent to wipe the hard drive first by restoring it to factory conditions. A process that takes just seconds or minutes to complete. However, this kind of formatting does not completely eliminate all of your information.

In their recent study, Avast found that it was possible to retrieve supposedly erased data. They purchased 20 used Android smartphones on eBay and managed to salvage a surprising amount of user data. The reason for this is that when a user deletes a file or formats a drive, the data is not lost, only the references to the data are removed. It is like tearing out the chapter contents page of a book. The Chapters themselves remain.

What Avast found on the 20 recovered devices was quite startling, much of the data was very much intact. For example, over 40,000 photos were retrieved, including some nude images, 750 emails and text messages, 250 contacts and even a completed application for a loan. One of the devices had some security software installed and this handset revealed the most eye-opening findings.

They were able to find the identity of the former owner of the device, they were able to gain access to the person’s Facebook account, gather their GPS data and even find some pornographic content.

Because your formatted data is never truly lost until it is overwritten, it is advisable that you make use of any number of third-party software applications that will allow you to perform a complete and secure eraser of all of your data. This is a best practice solution before you put your device or computer up for sale.


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