Investigation of popular second-hand mobile phone retailers including CeX revealed that 31% of the models being resold were no longer supported by their manufacturers, leaving device users vulnerable to hackers and data breaches.
Not only does an unsupported device mean that users won’t receive the latest security updates, but it also means that the smartphone is likely to run slower and feature more system bugs as it won’t be included in the manufacturer’s device-wide performance updates either.
In extreme cases, second-hand phones can still feature data from their previous owner including everything from hidden files to saved passwords and photographs stored in the device’s memory. This obviously leaves the device’s previous owner extremely vulnerable, but it also creates a risk that damaging hacker software could still be present on the phone after it is re-sold.
What the Experts Say
While used and refurbished phones make up only 14% of all smartphone sales, they are an essential part of creating a more sustainable smartphone supply chain and issues around security shouldn’t discourage consumers from considering this route.
“Purchasing a second-hand mobile device is great for the environment as well as the purse strings! However, it is integral that you do your manufacturer research before purchasing a used smartphone to ensure that the model is still fully supported.
Manufacturer updates are essential for ensuring the smooth running of your device as well as keeping it protected from the latest cybersecurity threats.” – Tom Peet, manager and refurbishment specialist at Repair Outlet
How to Ensure Your Data Security When Buying/Selling Second-Hand Devices
The National Cyber Security Centre has published guidance on the precautions that you can take to eliminate the newly-discovered risks associated with buying, selling or using second-hand smartphones so that users can shop, sell & donate confidently.
If you’re looking to buy a second-hand mobile phone
It’s important that you ensure that the model of the phone that you are purchasing is still supported by manufacturer updates. You can check for this online through a simple phone model search, if a phone is no longer supported by the manufacturer or is due to expire soon then it won’t receive updates to improve performance or keep your device secure.
Before you use a newly purchased second-hand mobile phone
Depending on the condition of the phone when you get it, it’s important that all of the previous owner’s details and data are removed from your device for both your and their protection. You can do this by performing a factory reset on your phone – instructions of how to do so can be found in the device’s user manual either online or in the phone’s original packaging.
What to do before you donate, sell or recycle your old mobile phone
Again, to ensure that your device is wiped of every relation to you and your data you should perform a factory reset. Although you might assume that when you recycle an old mobile phone it is used only for parts, in a lot of cases the phone is actually refurbished and resold so it’s always better to be safe and wipe your digital fingerprint before recycling an old device.
Written by Repair Outlet – Phone Refurbishment Experts