Valuable Data Exposed in Old Cell Phones

  • Comments: 3
  • Written on: September 6th, 2006

It seems that suddenly people are realizing that cellphones have become small computers. There have been dozens of stories ranging form the Journal Star, the Omaha World Herald, and many Internet websites about the kinds of interesting (and important) data that can be recovered from a cell phone by anyone with the ability to download a program off the Internet.

Cell phones are becoming more and more sophisticated as they include web browsing packages, text messaging, ringer downloading programs, and the ability to make wireless online purchases. But when you upgrade your cell phone, what happens to all of the stored text messages, credit card information and contact information?


A company named Trust Digital bought 10 phones on EBay to see what they could recover fro them. Recent reports indicate that even if you use your phone’s reset function the data in your phone can still be recovered by some sophisticated, but readily available recovery software. Here is what they found:

– One company’s plans to win a multimillion-dollar federal transportation contract.

– E-mails about another firm’s $50,000 payment for a software license.

– Details of prescriptions and receipts for one worker’s utility payments.

The recovered information was equal to 27,000 pages.

So needless to say, before you drop your phone in the donation box or sell it on EBay, you might want to visit the manufacturer’s website and inquire about a more complete erasure option. Many phones, including Palm’s Treo, have advanced erasure options, but they take much longer than the quick erasure options so they are typically buried deep in the phones software.

Another strategy to prevent data loss while still donating your old phone to charity is to store all of your data on a removable flash card. Most advanced phones have a port for adding a removable flash card. Once you are done with the phone, you can remove and destroy the card.

It seems that information and possibly identity theft have now moved form the mailbox, to the Internet, and straight into your own cell phone.

  1. adam said on September 6th, 2006 at 2:00 pm

    what’s the name of that program? i need to restore some of my own data i lost 😉

  2. same omaha person
    same omaha person said on September 21st, 2006 at 5:16 pm

    How come you have no staff listed on your website but claim to run a "world class corporation."

  3. Lanny
    Lanny said on September 23rd, 2006 at 7:55 am

    thor and his crew have been working on our computers for over three years and we have never had a complaint

What do you think? Join the discussion...

How do I change my avatar?

Go to gravatar.com and upload your preferred avatar.

Subscribe to My RSS Feed

Subscribe Form Click to Subscribe or

      TwitterCounter for @thorschrock

Ed Wunder Loves Schrock's Service

Top Commentators

Schrock Innovations' New Ride

Revolution Wraps Rocks!

Geek Squad Hires Anyone!

Other Recent Videos


We're on the Morning Blend answering your Lincoln Nebraska computer repair questions regarding warranties


Need your computer repaired in Omaha? If you're never visited Schrock Innovations before (1st time client), stop by for a FREE hour of repair

Our Open Adoption

    Kim and I are seeking to adopt another child through Open Adoption. If you know of a birth mother seeking a stable, loving family in Nebraska, please direct her to our website at nebraskaopenadoption.com.

Thor's Sponsors

    Computer Repair Lincoln NE
© Thor Schrock 2009