Factory reset not enough for data security on tablets

Sensitive data may not be fully protected by a factory reset on some tablets, say investigators.

Three separate investigations into Android tablets announced that data deletion could potentially be a problem, and found that they could recover sensitive information after the tablets had undergone a factory reset.

In particular, Tesco’s Hudl tablet was found to be particularly vulnerable and let those who know how, access to data saved to the internal memory.

The investigations were carried out on devices that were purchased second hand from auction sites, such as eBay, to see how easy it was to access data on tablets from places that potential criminals would be sourcing them.

“What people think is that when they hit erase or factory reset it’s deleting the underlying source data, but it’s not,” Jude McColgan, head of mobile at Avast, told the BBC.

Apparently, even though there is an Android function to wipe data, this only removes the indexing which locates data, and doesn’t necessarily remove the data itself. A true wipe would locate all the data and replace it with zeroes so that there is nothing left for people to extract.

Android have an encryption tool available on their phones which will help to delete all data when factory reset, if the device has undergone the encryption process beforehand. However, research this tool first as encryption may make device use more complicated, and can risk losing some or all of your data. In addition, there is alternative software available to help delete all your data permanently.

However, it is not just Android, iOS also has had claims against it regarding the easy retrieval of ‘deleted’ data.

You can find advice for safely wiping your data before selling or disposing of your devices on the official Get Safe Online website.