• ‘Deleted' items from phones still easily accessible, St. Vincent's research finds

    LATROBE, Pa. - A research project developed through the cybersecurity program at Saint Vincent College revealed the data people believe is deleted from their phone is still easily accessible.
    Anthony Serapiglia, an assistant professor at Saint Vincent College, and his students ordered 20 pounds of phones through an online Goodwill distribution site. The phones came from across the country, including Sacramento, Tuscaloosa and Montana. Of the phones, 87 turned on, and students were able to recover data from at least 51 of them.
    Serapiglia said using simple forensic methods, personal and identifiable information that people thought was erased off their phones before recycling them was actually easily accessible. The data included calendar entries of birthdays, contact lists and events attended.
    "There were things like pictures showing house number or identifying pictures. All kinds of information that could be identifiable for that person," Serapiglia said. 
    Serapiglia warned that it's so simple to get the data that sometimes criminals don't even need extra software. Most people are just leaving behind storage cards, unaware of the danger.
    To protect yourself, Serapiglia recommends removing any storage devices, like microSD cards, from your phone and doing a full factory reset on your device before recycling it.
    For an extra layer of protection, once you reset the phone, set it up again and encrypt it. Copy a large file, like movies or something that does not have any identifying information, and that will overwrite any stored data on the phone.



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