Security Expert Warns Cyber Dangers Of Discarding Old Phones

Due to the launch of new smartphone models from tech giants Samsung and Apple, many consumers are thinking of discarding their old phones to get new ones, Fox News reported.

But for cyber security expert Mike Ricotta, people should follow necessary precautions before relieving themselves of their old devices.

According to Ricotta, the head of development for the tech firm Blue Mountain Agency, data thieves usually target people who discard their phones or swap them for new ones.

This is because in most cases, people forget to delete their personal information from their devices.

"You want to make sure you've taken off any personal data, information you don't want to be sharing with the public," the tech expert said.

 For those who are afraid of permanently losing the data from their phones, Ricotta suggests using external devices for back-up files.

For him, external hard drives are more reliable than cloud servers simply because they remain offline and are not susceptible to anonymous hacking.

As what the public learned from the recent cyber attack on iCloud accounts of female celebrities, cloud servers are not the safest place to store personal information, according to BBC.

"You want to be sure you can recover data you may want, should it get lost," he said. "External hard drives are something you can keep offline, much more securely than a cloud server."

"[Cloud storage] is a great service for ensuring you back up important data, but you don't have the ability to take it offline like you do an external device," Ricotta added.

Aside from removing personal information, he also highly advises erasing all of the phone's contents and settings as these could be used to extract sensitive details from the original user.

"You want to clear the phone's hard drive of any data that belongs to you," he said.

Lastly, users should always remember to remove the SIM card from the phone before discarding it as this serves as the link between the owner of the device and the service provider, CBS reported.

"If you had purchased a new phone and just gave away your current phone without taking out the SIM card, it would be just like buying a new, empty wallet, and then giving your current wallet away without taking out your license, your money [and] credit cards," Ricotta explained.

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