Cell Phones

Cellphone: Once Data Is Wiped, Is It ACTUALLY Wiped Clean?

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  • Aug 18th, 2020 3:45 pm
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Cellphone: Once Data Is Wiped, Is It ACTUALLY Wiped Clean?

So I'm paranoid that some super hacker is going to buy my used phone and steal all my photos and saved data, even after wiping the phone.
Is this a thing? Anything I can do?
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All modern phones are encrypted. Once you perform a factory reset, the keys are deleted. You're fine.

Now if you're still using an Android phone from like 6-7 years ago then it might be a different story
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Dave98 wrote: All modern phones are encrypted. Once you perform a factory reset, the keys are deleted. You're fine.

Now if you're still using an Android phone from like 6-7 years ago then it might be a different story
No, 2 Samsung's from the past couple of years.

Okay thanks
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Dave98 wrote: All modern phones are encrypted. Once you perform a factory reset, the keys are deleted. You're fine.

Now if you're still using an Android phone from like 6-7 years ago then it might be a different story
Is that true? What if OP is an international spy, there's absolutely no way for the CIA, etc, to get at his/her 'erased' data? Really?
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Shouldn't be... unless they somehow recover the encryption key. There might be some magic that tech wizards can do to recover that with direct physical access, but I know of no software that would.

Fun fact: Many older Samsung phones wipe themselves immediately if you pop out the SIM card.

Me: "Hey, I'm, trying to unlock my phone... it says I need a non-Telus SIM. Can I use your Rogers one?"
Friend: "Sure, just let me pop it out..."
Me: "Hey, why does your phone say it's resetting?"
Friend: "Dunno?"
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Kramy wrote: Shouldn't be... unless they somehow recover the encryption key. There might be some magic that tech wizards can do to recover that with direct physical access, but I know of no software that would.

Fun fact: Many older Samsung phones wipe themselves immediately if you pop out the SIM card.

Me: "Hey, I'm, trying to unlock my phone... it says I need a non-Telus SIM. Can I use your Rogers one?"
Friend: "Sure, just let me pop it out..."
Me: "Hey, why does your phone say it's resetting?"
Friend: "Dunno?"
Heh, I hope so but the cynic in me doubts that, isn't that why big corps met w the US govt? Would've be surprised if one's data is secretly clouded somewhere.
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tranquility922 wrote: Is that true? What if OP is an international spy, there's absolutely no way for the CIA, etc, to get at his/her 'erased' data? Really?
I guess you'll have to ask the CIA. And a lot of phones don't "secretly" upload your stuff to the cloud. Most already do it in the form of a back up function.
Kramy wrote:

Fun fact: Many older Samsung phones wipe themselves immediately if you pop out the SIM card.
That's only supposed to happen with the first time you insert a SIM card.
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Dave98 wrote: I guess you'll have to ask the CIA. And a lot of phones don't "secretly" upload your stuff to the cloud. Most already do it in the form of a back up function.
Like I said, I'm cynical and if what I suspect is true, ofc they won't admit it. Just like when everyone said taping up one's laptop cam is silly until they saw Zuckerberg tape his in a photo. DTA.
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No one's buying up used phones on the off chance they might be able to recover data that could be used for nefarious purposes. If someone is willing to go through that much trouble, they'd have a specific target in mind e.g. someone rich, famous, or in a high level of government. If OP is such a person with super sensitive data, the phone should be destroyed.
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Worst case scenario just keep your phone...
DaVibe wrote: So I'm paranoid that some super hacker is going to buy my used phone and steal all my photos and saved data, even after wiping the phone.
Is this a thing? Anything I can do?
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DeJesus wrote: Worst case scenario just keep your phone...
Well, it's still worth something so I wanted to sell it but concerned about the data that's on the phone ...

Yes, it's as serious / concerning as described, which is why I'm asking the question lol
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Reset the phone and then fill it up with junk. Reset again and sell.
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rabbit wrote: Reset the phone and then fill it up with junk. Reset again and sell.
Was considering this as a "write over" but wasn't aware of that worked or not. Okay thanks
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DaVibe wrote: Was considering this as a "write over" but wasn't aware of that worked or not. Okay thanks
That method is completely unnecessary for phones. Since phones use SSDs, there's no guarantee you can write over everything anyway.

Both iOS and modern Android phones use file based encryption meaning each file has its own key.

Put it this way... even someone who has access to the phone with the password, deleted files are still usually unrecoverable because of TRIM. A lot of ideas that people have with data recovery come from mechanical spinning hard drives and their file systems. These usually don't apply to SSDs
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tranquility922 wrote: Is that true? What if OP is an international spy, there's absolutely no way for the CIA, etc, to get at his/her 'erased' data? Really?
The more important question is "How much is your data worth?". And I don't mean to you, but to a third party.
If say you were a major drug dealer or con artist (please note this is a hypothetical and I am in no way impugning you), the value of this data to law enforcement would be high enough for them to pay for it to be retrieved or blackmail Apple/Google/Samsung to retrieve it..
If you work for a company that has high value secrets and this info could be beneficial to their competitors, then why would you even think of selling it? Just break it up into little pieces.

If like most of us here, you're an average person, with dick pics and such that you really wouldn't like to see with someone else, I'd say the risk of someone paying the really high premium to retrieve said data is really low. But Google might already have those photos so check and make sure they're really gone.
The point I am trying to make is this, with currently available technology, retrieving encrypted data is practically impossible, and even more so after it has been deleted. If it were possible though, it would cost a lot of money and will not be routinely available to the average person shopping Kijiji for a deal.
Last edited by Gangsta101 on Aug 9th, 2020 9:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Gangsta101 wrote: The more important question is "How much is your data worth?". And I don't mean to you, but to a third party.
If say you were a major drug dealer or con artist (please note this is a hypothetical and I am in no way impugning you), the value of this data to law enforcement would be high enough for them to pay for it to be retrieved or blackmail Apple/Google/Samsung to retrieve it..
If you work for a company that has high value secrets and this info could be beneficial to their competitors, then why would you even think of selling it? Just break it up into little pieces.

If like most of us here, you're an average person, with dick pics and such that you really wouldn't like to see with someone else, I'd say the risk of someone paying the really high premium to retrieve said data is really low. But Google might already have those photos so check and make sure they're really gone.
I know, but that's all I'm getting it: that it's possible to retrieve data. The value/importance of the target/data is moot here, heck, someone could have a picture of a carrot that they somehow don't want to reveal to the world for privacy reasons.
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DaVibe wrote: So I'm paranoid that some super hacker is going to buy my used phone and steal all my photos and saved data, even after wiping the phone.
Is this a thing? Anything I can do?
If you are truly paranoid about this, your next phone should have a MicroSD card slot. Store everything private in the MicroSD card. You will have no worries of hackers stealing your private data from your used phone. When it comes to retire your MicroSD card, smash the card with a hammer or cut it up in pieces, just like you would cut up your old credit card.
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You're more likely to fall for a phishing attempt or get a shady app that records your data, than you are of someone getting your info once you've erased/factory reset.

You're fine.
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rollei wrote: If you are truly paranoid about this, your next phone should have a MicroSD card slot. Store everything private in the MicroSD card. You will have no worries of hackers stealing your private data from your used phone. When it comes to retire your MicroSD card, smash the card with a hammer or cut it up in pieces, just like you would cut up your old credit card.
Someone is far more likely to be able to pull data off a microSD card than the internal storage of a phone.

Unless you manually choose to do so, microSD cards aren't encrypted. Anyone who steals the phone basically has complete access to anything on the card.
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Dave98 wrote: Someone is far more likely to be able to pull data off a microSD card than the internal storage of a phone.

Unless you manually choose to do so, microSD cards aren't encrypted. Anyone who steals the phone basically has complete access to anything on the card.
I believe he "implied" this in the post. But yes it has to be encrypted.
It's also important to add that throwing in encryption slows down the performance of your SD card. By how much depends on the card and file size

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