Avast finds personal data on phones sold at pawn shops

Many people sell their used smartphones but fail to ensure their personal data is wiped away.

A year and half ago, Avast mobile security researchers bought 20 used phones from online consumer-to-consumer sites, like eBay and Amazon, in the USA. Using easily available recovery software, they were able to access more than 40,000 personal photos, emails, and text messages.

Since then, smartphone technology has progressed and numerous educational articles have been published to inform people about cleaning their phones before selling, so we wanted to see what would happen if we did a similar experiment now. This time, our researchers bought phones from pawn shops: Five devices each in New York, Paris, Barcelona, and Berlin — and again, used widely available free recovery software to detect the data found on the devices.

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