With the exciting launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, many people are making the move to upgrade their phones. But what happens when you sell your old device? Unfortunately, the buyer could gain access to a wide range of your personal data if you fail to wipe the information adequately.
Phones and other digital devices store important data that could be dangerous if it were to fall into the wrong hands. For example, thieves could access photos, account numbers, addresses, names and birthdates. This information being out in the open could lead to your identity being stolen, which could damage your credit and cause you unnecessary stress.
Here are some tips to ensure your protection:
- Back up your phone: Before cleaning your phone's internal storage, it's a good idea to back up your information on the iCloud or iTunes. We would also recommend encrypting your backed up data, which will keep it password protected.
- Erase internal data: To wipe information stored on your device internally, simply go to SETTINGS > GENERAL > RESET > ERASE ALL CONTENT AND SETTINGS. The data on your phone is encrypted using a unique key stored exclusively on your handset. When you follow the above procedure, the key is deleted and your personal data is unencrypted and unintelligible. The original iPhones did not successfully wipe all data, but every handset released since 2009 will have the encryption capabilities to make a reset effective. "At Apple, your trust means everything to us," said Tim Cook in a statement on the Apple website. "That's why we respect your privacy and protect it with strong encryption."
- Remove your SIM card: Remove your device's SIM card if it has one before selling it or trading it in, and do the same with the micro SD card if that's what your device came with. Contacts and call logs can be stored on these units, so it's best not to give them away.
- Wipe your device remotely: If you've lost your phone, or if it was stolen, then delete personal information from a distance using Find My iPhone. To do this, simply log into iCloud using your Apple ID, and click ERASE iPHONE and then REMOVE FROM ACCOUNT. This will ensure that the thief does not gain access to your data.
However, even with the added protection of encryption, the chance that your information will be stolen remains real. Hackers are always refining their skills, getting more sophisticated at scraping data from devices that have been previously cleaned, so be wary about selling your old phone if you've ever kept sensitive files on it. If you have and still want to sell it, then you should probably monitor your accounts closely so you'll be ready to react if you notice unusual activity.
Consider signing up for a credit monitoring service so you'll be notified when certain changes in your accounts are detected. While such services cannot guarantee your protection against identity theft, they can alert you to certain indicators of potential credit fraud. Finding out that you have been a victim sooner rather than later allows you to take aggressive steps to clear your name and stop thieves before they can do serious damage to your credit and identity.