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Cell Phone Secrets Die Hard 146

Posted by samzenpus
from the is-that-call-work-related dept.
duplo1 writes "According to an article on CNN, "Selling your old phone once you upgrade to a fancier model can be like handing over your diaries. All sorts of sensitive information pile[s] up inside our cell phones, and deleting it may be more difficult than you think." It seems that corporate security policies need to extend their disposal standards to mobile devices; but what is there to educate consumers regarding such a potential breach of privacy?"
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Cell Phone Secrets Die Hard

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  • factory reset? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @08:10PM (#16012355)
    so what use is the Factory Reset on phones?
    • Re:factory reset? (Score:5, Informative)

      by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @09:02PM (#16012607)
      It resets the RAM and loads all the default settings for built-in applications from ROM. It typically doesn't touch the FlashRAM.

      But that's just the typical reset. Factory Reset isn't a feature that is normally exposed without additional external attachments (a cable, a PC, and special software).
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jonwil (467024)
        On my Motorola L6 (and other motos), there are options labeled "master reset" and "master clear". Activating both will clear out pretty much everything (including stored SMSs, phonebook contents and so on. Would probobly remove custom ringtones and pictures and such too)
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by BadAnalogyGuy (945258)
          Interesting. Does it reformat internal flash as well with factory-default settings? Most of the phones I've dealt with will wipe out the application settings folder but will leave the user data untouched, so it's less a "factory reset" than a "restore to original settings" reset.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Ucklak (755284)
          Every cellphone I've had has had the same, a master reset and a master clear which to me, and I'm a snoop, cleaned out everything.
          Why even try to sell a phone that is so last years model?

          If you're on a plan, you get free phones and if you're on a pre-pay, those phones are only good for that plan.
          • Re:factory reset? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by yppiz (574466) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @12:38AM (#16013575) Homepage
            If you're on a plan, you get free phones and if you're on a pre-pay, those phones are only good for that plan.

            Once you're month-to-month (which normally happens at the end of your plan) you may wish to get a new phone without being locked in for an additional year or two. You can get this year's model on eBay if you really need it, but why bother? Get last year's model for $40 and you've got the freedom of a pay as you go plan but with a much better phone and more predictable monthly costs. It's the best elements of a plan without the contract.

            --Pat
            • My current contract came with quite a nice 'phone, but back when I was on a pre-pay system I bought a generation old 'phone on eBay because it had the features I wanted (bluetooth and GPRS) and was cheap.
          • Re:factory reset? (Score:5, Informative)

            by NeMon'ess (160583) * <<flinxmid> <at> <yahoo.com>> on Thursday August 31, 2006 @03:57AM (#16014148) Homepage Journal
            if you're on a pre-pay, those phones are only good for that plan.

            Not true. If a phone has been unlocked [thetravelinsider.info] for $10 or so, it can be used on any compatible network. Meaning I could eBay a Cingular phone and use it with T-Mobile-To-Go and pay by the month.

            Furthermore, for $75 I could eBay a used Motorola V330 that had been used with a T-Mobile 2-year contract. Then I could use it with T-Mobile-To-Go. I'd get a good phone for a great price that is more capable than the Samsung SGH-209. T-Mobile sells that one new for $99.

            I happened to be researching them last week before buying.
    • Re:factory reset? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ErikTheRed (162431) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @03:06AM (#16013999) Homepage
      It's probably good in many cases - notice that this "article" is practically a re-write of a press release from a company that sells (drum-roll...) software to encrypt the crap on your cell phone! Gee, you think they may just be trolling for business?
    • by Reapman (740286)
      Well in my case I have an old Nokia phone thats about 6 years old. It doesn't hold a charge long enough to power up anymore, much less perform a factory reset (assuming thats an option in that phone) any idea how I could wipe it? I don't even know whats stored on it anymore. It's the one reason I haven't done anything with it yet like recycle.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @08:12PM (#16012371)
    All they'll get from me is the number for the local Domino's Pizza... well - maybe some 900 numbers...
    • by saskboy (600063)
      I got my cell phone second hand, and it had old phone numbers on it. I was half tempted to call some of them and ask who the owner used to be :-D

      And I didn't get my phone like the Sidekick girl in New York, I got it as a gift. A real gift, not the kind found in the back of a taxi.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Yeah I'd be horrified if they got my 'reel sensitive' text message history. . .
      omg u g01n 2 da m0vi tonyt?
      may b i hav 2 get f00d b 4 tho
      ok ttyl :)
      cya
  • by creimer (824291) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @08:14PM (#16012378) Homepage
    Even if you take preventive measures to erase sensitive data from devices, you still have mega-corporations who accidentally release sensitive data like a good smelly fart.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Who needs leaky mega-corporations when you've got the NSA?
    • by twitter (104583) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @09:14PM (#16012651) Homepage Journal

      Even if you take preventive measures to erase sensitive data from devices, you still have mega-corporations who accidentally release sensitive data like a good smelly fart.

      Even when they don't release it publically, they lack both the competence or will to keep it to themselves. I remember, ten years ago, an acquaintance who taunted a friend with private medical information. She had been a clerk for a debt collection agency and used her access to look up all of her friends. The big dumb companies share things they should not and don't keep tabs on it. Imagine what clerks at ChoicePoint could do, then think of how owned their little windoze terminals are. There's not much real privacy left anymore.

      Cell phones are not free platforms and the owners are some of the most notorious abusers of personal privacy. Almost all of the Baby Bells were too happy to comply when the Bush administration asked them to break the law and tap their customers. Just to get a Cigular phone six years ago, I had to give the creeps monthly access to my credit record! You have to remember that the parent company at one time refused to allow people to plug modems into their network. The babies continue to stonewall broadband to this day. They will do anything and everything to get some crummy little franchises over their users. Your "secrets" are the last of their concerns, except where it can be used for their own marketing purposes.

      My answer kind of sucks, but it works. My cell phone is nothing more. I put names into it because the phone company already knows who I'm talking to. Nothing else goes in. I don't SMS, I will never use their calenders. I resent GPS tracking. I'll never trust their cameras and I'll keep it in a box if I'm ever talking about something sensitive. The damn thing is like a bug in my pocket that can be abused by anyone with the technical wherewithal to pull the wool over the Baby Bells. These days, that's about anyone.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by soft_guy (534437)
        >>you still have mega-corporations who accidentally release sensitive data like a good smelly fart.

        Even when they don't release it publically, they lack both the competence or will to keep it to themselves.

        That's funny - my wife says the same thing about me farting and I'm not even a corporation!
      • So I was just talking about big dumb companies not being able to keep data they should not have in the first place? ATT loses credit card data [bbc.co.uk]. That's information they actually need. Do you think they care about your email, besides keeping it for the NSA? Stooges.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by plague3106 (71849)
        Even when they don't release it publically, they lack both the competence or will to keep it to themselves. I remember, ten years ago, an acquaintance who taunted a friend with private medical information. She had been a clerk for a debt collection agency and used her access to look up all of her friends. The big dumb companies share things they should not and don't keep tabs on it. Imagine what clerks at ChoicePoint could do, then think of how owned their little windoze terminals are. There's not much real
        • by twitter (104583)

          If this is true, and in the US, your friend can sue and easily win as sharing medical data is a HIPPA violation

          It was billing information. Today that information might not have as many details but it did then. At the time there was no HIPPA.

  • easy fix (Score:5, Funny)

    by lawpoop (604919) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @08:14PM (#16012380) Homepage Journal
    Just stick in in the microwave for about 10 seconds.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by AmberBlackCat (829689)
      You can kill it faster if you replace your battery with a Sony one.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by BrokenHalo (565198)
      Of course, if you get an LG U8120 phone like mine, you can pretty much guarantee the system software is so crappy, nobody will be able to get any information off the machine...
  • I use the ultimate security system. I give my old phones to my baby daughter. Proof of the security is that her own mother won't touch it anymore. Ferpect.
  • Common Sense? (Score:2, Informative)

    by nachmore (922129)

    but what is there to educate consumers regarding such a potential breach of privacy?

    Common sense? When a big organisation gets rid of it's old computers it (usually) destroys the harddisks totally. Why should it be any different with mobile phones?

    In a previous organisation that I worked for, the IT department (who happened to be in charge of all things cellular) made sure that every outgoing phone went through it's hands before going back to the cell operator for an upgrade or onselling etc.

    The only

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Frogular (961545)

      The only education needed is in the specific technology department that handles these things and they just need to basically make sure that things are taken care of before the phone leaves the company - it usually isn't that hard.

      I disagree. The problem is not limited to devices provided by an employer. Employees are likely to put confidential company information on their personal PDAs, just as they do on their home computers. Most of them let confidential information leak simply because they weren't aware

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 1u3hr (530656)
      Common sense? When a big organisation gets rid of it's old computers it (usually) destroys the harddisks totally. Why should it be any different with mobile phones?

      And TFA recommends you should physically destroy your old phones. All very convenient for the phone manufacturers, no competition from the secondhand market. Not to mention the toxic electronic waste. And the phone manufacturers don't provide a simple "wipe/overwrite/wipe command, for fear some idiot will use it unintentionally and complain, or

  • of selling old phones. Even if you buy a new one every year (which I'm sure few of us do), it's worth practically nothing. Everytime I upgrade phones, I do the same thing: transfer all the desired information to the new one and 'stress test' the old one. (hint: most don't pass the 20lb maul test).
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by NMerriam (15122)
      Even if you buy a new one every year (which I'm sure few of us do), it's worth practically nothing.

      Well, $20 is $20. If it works, you'll get at least that much on eBay. heck, I've sold no-frills phones that were 3-4 years old for $50 on ebay.

      Smartphones, the ones most likley to carry sensitive data, cost hundreds of dollars new, so selling one that is several years old can still get you $100-300 depending on popularity of the model -- particularly since service providers frequently update models with useles
      • by Blimm (755250)
        >> Well, $20 is $20. If it works, you'll get at least that much on eBay. heck, I've sold no-frills phones that were 3-4 years old for $50 on >> ebay.

        LOL...the folks who bought them were probably hoping to harvest YOUR old data!
        • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

          by sumdumass (711423)
          I bought a phone from Ebay for $55 US. It would have cost me around $3-450 US if i got it new. It was only 2 years old too. The great thing was that nexel looked it over and covered it on the insurance they rip me for.
    • To stop them ending up in landfill, and polluting the earth with that odd rare metal inside them?
  • by rice_burners_suck (243660) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @08:25PM (#16012420)
    In my company, we dispose of cellular telephones and other information technology equipment in the proper manner. First, we place that of which we are disposing on a steel platform. Then, a gentleman wielding an enormous iron sledgehammer approaches the aforementioned device, after which he proceeds to smash the fscking thing to bits. Finally, the aforementioned device is placed into the appropriate refuse recepticle. Thus, we are assured that the privacy of our employees is protected from unwanted breaches.
    • by Joey Patterson (547891) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @08:36PM (#16012482)
      Then, a gentleman wielding an enormous iron sledgehammer approaches the aforementioned device, after which he proceeds to smash the fscking thing to bits.

      Your company hired Gallagher [wikipedia.org]?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by tktk (540564)
      Then, a gentleman wielding an enormous iron sledgehammer...

      If you were really serious about security, you'd then smash the gentlman to bits. Who knows what he learned while handling it?

      • If you were really serious about security, you'd then smash the gentlman to bits. Who knows what he learned while handling it?

        Here at Acme, we also smash the gentleman who smashed the gentleman to bits. This day in age, you never know how information can travel, with bribery and all...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by StikyPad (445176)
      Or just get one of these bad boys:

      4033 Industrial Shredder
      The Ultimate in Central Shredding Systems. Designed to be versatile to work as a stand alone destruction unit or in combination with a disintegrator for maximum size reduction. The Model 4033 shredder is capable of destroying bulk product from roll stock to whole computer towers into pieces 2" wide at random lengths. Add a disintegrator to achieve particle sizes to meet DoD requirements.

      Disintigrator description:

      Waste material is fed into the machine
    • by necro81 (917438)
      I work at a large hospital that goes through thousands of computers a year. The IT guys have considered wiping and reusing old drives, except that it would take hours per drive to completely wipe them (overwriting with all 1's, then all 0's, over and over). So, instead, they just dispose of them. But, to ensure that no one can get any info (like personal, medical, or business records), they have an old drill press sitting in the corner.
  • by achurch (201270) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @08:27PM (#16012429) Homepage
    NTT DoCoMo, in Japan, has a little hole-punch-like device they use to destroy the internal memory chip when you give your phone back, and best of all they do it right there on the spot: you give them your old phone, and they stick it in the device and go "crunch!" Of course, I haven't actually seen the schematics for any (much less all) of the DoCoMo phones so I could theoretically be being fooled, but given the nearly paranoid attitude among Japanese these days over personal information, I doubt DoCoMo would take that risk.
    • Greed, not paranoia (Score:3, Informative)

      by SuperBanana (662181)

      Of course, I haven't actually seen the schematics for any (much less all) of the DoCoMo phones so I could theoretically be being fooled, but given the nearly paranoid attitude among Japanese these days over personal information, I doubt DoCoMo would take that risk.

      I think greed has more to do with it than anything else; by destroying the phone instead of reselling/recycling/donating it, they protect the market for new phones. If people sold their phones instead of tossing them or letting them be destroy

      • Except that in Japan if you need "just a phone", a new one can be had for 1 yen or less depending on discounts.
    • I've never heard of this, but I believe those wacky Japanese would do something like this.

      The problem is that a single hole punch in the middle of the phone may or may not do anything. As you mentioned, it depends on the schematics of the phone, and some PCBs have memory one place while other PCBs place the flash somewhere else.

      There are actually two memory areas in your DoCoMo phone. The first is the SIM card itself which can hold a handful of data. The other is onboard NANDFlash (or some similar Flash mem
      • by jonwil (467024)
        Actually, thats not quite true.
        There is at least one motorola phone which has software developed by Motorola. But the external interface (i.e. how it talks to the network, how it talks to things that plug into it etc) is done to a DoCoMo spec (AFAIK, I dont own one and havent seen one so I cant say for sure)
        • Ah, the M1000. I may be mistaken, but the middleware layer provided by DoCoMo is still in there (I believe that the M1000 runs on Symbian). The only phones that I am aware of that may not run the DoCoMo middleware controller software are the Sanyo (BREW) and the older Sharp 700 and 900 (iTron).
          • by jonwil (467024)
            What about the FOMA m702ig and m702is?
            I dont own one and cant say for sure but I believe that both run the same Motorola software as other motorola phones but modified to "speak DoCoMo" (as it were)
  • Bah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cervantes (612861) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @08:28PM (#16012433) Journal
    I want to blame the sellers for being idiots and not properly clearing their devices... but really, it's the manufacturers who need to be clearer. Having different kind of "wipes" on a device but not labelling them differently is just plain stupid. There needs to be one option called "quick reset", and another called "Secure Wipe - You will lose everything forever, are you really sure???" and then have 5 queries after it. It's bad when a consumer gets misled by thinking "wipe" means "wipe", but I've had devices where I've found that my "wipe" wasn't total either, and it's because the manufacturer is misleading with their instructions.

    That said, i remember the good old days, when you didn't loan out your floppies without running a wipe program on them... otherwise the boys found your 'secret stash' that you just deleted.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      That said, i remember the good old days, when you didn't loan out your floppies without running a wipe program on them... otherwise the boys found your 'secret stash' that you just deleted.
      You might want to rethink your life if your "secret stash" fits on a single floppy...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      This is a free market society. Why don't you create a cell phone manufacturing company that's very clear about how to wipe a phone? If the market wants or needs this then you'll get rich.

      Personally, I think 99% of the negligence belongs with the consumer who is trying to eek a few pennies out of their old phone.
      • by Cervantes (612861)

        This is a free market society. Why don't you create a cell phone manufacturing company that's very clear about how to wipe a phone? If the market wants or needs this then you'll get rich.

        The problem with that is that the "Free market society" only applies to features that the general consumer can easily see and readily appreciate. For instance, no-one that I know of has made great leaps in the marketplace just by having their car where the gaskets wear out in 100,000KM instead of 90,000... but that doesn't

  • Trust Digital found no evidence thieves or corporate spies are routinely buying used phones to mine them for secrets, Magliato said. "I don't think the bad guys have figured this out yet."

    Uh, an AP news release on CNN.com. Did you think this wouldn't make it out at the time of the interview? Idiot. Expect prices on used phones to spike a bit on feeBay over the next few days. The bad guys, even the technophobic lazy slobs, all know now, thanks to you. Thanks, guys!

    • by quanticle (843097)
      Most likely, the bad guys *already* knew. This article lets the good guys know as well, so that they can take countermeasures (like multiple overwrites).

      A commercial, and in some respects a social doubt has been started within the last year or two, whether it is right to discuss so openly the security or insecurity of locks. Many well-meaning persons suppose that the discussion respecting the means for baffling the supposed safety of locks offers a premium for dishonesty, by showing others how to be di

  • Conflicting reports (Score:2, Interesting)

    by solevita (967690)
    "Police expert admits mobile phone forensics barrier"

    As posted to the internet just last month:

    "A police digital forensics expert has admitted that some mobile phones are impenetrable to software used by police in forensic examinations. The revelation follows a paper by a Cambridge researcher which originally made the claim."

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/07/07/mobile_pho ne_forensics_barrier/ [theregister.co.uk]
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Frogular (961545)
      Also in the article:

      "Mansell pointed out that time-consuming manual examination can still retrieve phone data."

      All they're saying is that non-standard formats make it harder to lift information - it's still there. Just like it's harder to recover lost data on ReiserFS than it is on ext2. It's still there, but the filesystem makes it a little more confusing.

      Anyway, this should become less of a problem as manufacturers settle on a few standard formats to cut costs.
  • by searchr (564109) <searchr.gmail@com> on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @08:39PM (#16012498)
    I bought a "smart" phone off eBay, it was a good deal, works great. Turns out the old user was a doctor. I know this because, even though he had figured out how to erase his messages and crap, the thing was set up on his hospital's corporate wifi email system, with portable Outlook. The first time I got online (do you know how cool it is that all the pubs in my neighborhood have free wifi now? it's very cool.) It reached out and REFILLED the inbox with hundreds of VERY personal emails (his and his patients), including attachments.

    I have no idea what any of the xrays were trying to show me, but he seemed pretty concerned about some spots in a couple of them. I thought it was cool I could zoom in on them with my phone. Man I hope copies are being kept on the server...
    • I hope that you don't get a vear high data bill form the big email files.
    • Myself, I hope that you contacted the previous owner and informed him what happened so that patient's data would perhaps not be placed at wanton risk again.
  • Went to South Korea this summer and bought a used cellphone to use while he was there. The previous owner deleted all the phone numbers, but didn't delete her cosplay pictures.
  • More details than CNN

    "This report gives an overview of current forensic software, designed for acquisition, examination, and reporting of data discovered on cellular handheld devices, and an understanding of their capabilities and limitations."

    http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/nistir/nistir-72 50.pdf [nist.gov]
  • Funny story... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JourneyExpertApe (906162) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @08:46PM (#16012537)
    I accidentally broke my old phone, and I wasn't due for an "upgrade" from my provider, so I had to buy a new one. When I got my "new" phone for around $120 dollars, I promptly installed my SIM card only to find that, in addition to my address book, I also had several listings for people I didn't know. My first thought was that these were numbers of associates at the phone store, preloaded in case I had any problems, but after examining the body of the phone and discovering scratches, I realized, to my dismay, that this was a second-hand phone. When I brought it back, I got the feeling that they didn't really want to replace it with a new one, but there just happened to be another customer buying a dozen or so phones for his business, so they really had no choice.

    I always wondered what would have happened if I had called those people in the phone's memory to try to find out who's phone I had.
    • You probably would have never found out. Your phone number is determined by the SIM card (your old one w/ old phone number) but the previous owners Contacts list was stored on secondary internal phone memory. If you had called the people it wouldn't have shown up saying "Dave" calling, it would be an unkown number (your phone number). So they wouldn't even know who's phone you were calling from.
  • big deal.. (Score:3, Funny)

    by Mister Whirly (964219) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @08:47PM (#16012539) Homepage
    If anyone wants your calling info, they can just ask the NSA... (or steal one of their unencrypted, non-password protected laptops...)
  • by Robbyboy (802040) <wukichra@chartOPENBSDer.net minus bsd> on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @08:49PM (#16012547)
    It really makes you wonder where the knowledge gap occurs. Many people know that when you delete files from a computer that they are not really deleted and they could be restored. How could they miss the connection? If you've seen one microchip, you've seen them all. Be afraid, be very afraid...

    But anyway, who in their right mind would put sensitive information on a medium that its user can lose control over? (Lets overlook the computers that the government has been misplacing with everyones social security numbers for a split second) You (generally) wouldnt let someone use your computer if it has information that you do not want them to see, why should a cellular telephone be any different.

    Next thing you know someone will be surprised at the ability to intercept bluetooth. Someone will be transmitting sensitive information via bluetooth and some buck tooth 14 year old will be around the corner to intercept it...

    In closing, since people did not know that their data does not necessarially go away, did you know that if you do not secure a wireless router, people can potentially intercept information?

    Its a pity you cannot legislate stupidity...
    • by Lehk228 (705449)
      most people don't know that, hell many don't even know to empty the recycle bin
    • If all bluetooth-enabled phones are like mine, nobody is going to send any data, sensitive or otherwise, by bluetooth.

      In my mighty Samsung A640's user manual, the bluetooth section takes all of 1 page. Just enough to tell you how to turn it on and change the device name. Just like the GPS feature: it makes a little icon light up on the screen, no more.
  • by b0s0z0ku (752509) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @09:05PM (#16012619)
    would involve keeping all data on a removable compact flash card. When the owner sells the phone, the flash card can either be removed and reused in their new phone, or slagged with Thermite.

    -b.

  • Why else would Cingular have sent us two pre-paid padded envelopes along with our new phones for our old cell phones? They didn't even try to hide it ("We recycle them").
  • This is the same problem companies had with old hard drives from their employee's computers both at work and at home. People give away or sell their old equipment and with it go their "secrets". Of course, the more important pieces of information were already snooped by industrial espionage, given the sorry state of security on the dominant software platform. Keyloggers abound and employees have been sending things unencrypted all along.

    Non free "smart" phones exasperate the problem because they are e

  • A few years ago, I had a phone that I really, *really* liked, but had used it so much that I wore the face off of the buttons. So I bought another on eBay, and took the buttons out and installed them in my old phone. But first, I powered up the phone just out of curiosity. It was still activated in the previous owner's name, the address book was still populated, etc.. They hadn't even bothered *trying* to erase any data.
  • They're all bastards. Skype is much better, when you're able to use it. (Although at the end of 2006 their policies will change and will suck.) http://home.comcast.net/~plutarch/malfy.html [comcast.net]
  • Am I the only one here who disassmbles cell phones for parts? LCD Screens, vibrating motors. Most things are too entirely small to use, but I do it anyway.
  • Resetting Palm? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by zoftie (195518) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @11:22PM (#16013239) Homepage
    As article said:
    "Palm Inc., which makes the popular Treo phones, puts directions deep within its Web site for what it calls a "zero out reset." It involves holding down three buttons simultaneously while pressing a fourth tiny button on the back of the phone.

    But it's so awkward to do that even Palm says it may take two people. A Palm executive, Joe Fabris, said the company made the process deliberately clumsy because it doesn't want customers accidentally erasing their information."

    They haven't seen kungfoo of emacs users 5 keys to a command ;-)
    2c
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      This is pure rubbish: to zero-out a Treo 650, all you have to do is hold the power button while pressing reset. When the second Palm logo comes up, release power and hit up on the 5-way to confirm.
      • on the 650, it's easier as you suggest. On the 600, it's a very convoluted thing that one person can do, but not do easily. However, this is a good thing: they document it in the manual, tell you the keys to press and you definitely won't do it by accident. Ric
  • Blueberry Blues (Score:2, Informative)

    by geauxtiggers (921631)
    About two years ago, I traded in my Blueberry for a Treo 600. My friends at the local cellphone shop agreed to sell my Blueberry for me and promised to clear the memory and personal data before doing so. Thru some glitch ( I love that word ), they didn't get the speed dial numbers erased from the phone. My closest family members and friends went thru a week of getting annoying calls in the middle of the night (the new owner had it in his pocket and everytime he sat down, it dialed someone on the list), b
  • Nothing like misleading/incomplete information in an article.

    All the references for "recovered data" seems to come from "smart phones". They specifically mention a Treo and a Blackberry. These are basically handheld computers that happen to include a phone. They store large amounts of data in addition to phone records, so they'll also have measures to prevent accidental erasure that would lose more than just old caller ID records.

    But the AP weanies who wrote the article are clueless and just calls them
  • Why sell? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kuvter (882697) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @01:44AM (#16013763) Homepage
    Whats wrong with this world, why are you selling a cell phone when it still works. If it works for you, keep it. I think you're just wasting money on a new phone that you don't need. Keep your phone and keep your privacy, untill it breaks; then dispose of it accordingly.
    • by Builder (103701)
      I generally get a free phone from my provider every year or two. Last year it was the Nokia 6681. This year I got the N80.
  • Nothing that a big mighty magnet can't fix!
  • The warning labels say really bad things could happen if you dispose of the phone in a fire... Well, I WANT the darn thing destroyed beyond repair so how about tossing it into a fire? Outdoors of course because there is a non-zero chance that it could explode, and it WILL release stuff you don't want to breath, but that's what outdoor bonfires are for. Ok, it would be bad for the environment if everyone did this, but most people just toss them in the trash, trade them in, or give them to charity so it wo
  • The problem is there are two conflicting requirements. As long as the phone stays with you, there's a requirement to preserve the integrity of the data at all costs. But at some point you are going to want rid of the data, and its integrity becomes a liability rather than an asset.

    Now, it's not at all hard to implement a "FORGET ALL" functionality: all you have to do is overwrite the entire memory with any combination of ones and zeros that doesn't represent the stored data, and if you need more than 5
  • Basically, this article is a bunch of fear mongering about not being able to erase your data cause "it's too hard, wah wah".

    When have you ever seen a phone without a master reset feature? I know I never have.

    They even point this out in TFA:

    Palm Inc., which makes the popular Treo phones, puts directions deep within its Web site for what it calls a "zero out reset." It involves holding down three buttons simultaneously while pressing a fourth tiny button on the back of the phone.

    But it's so awkward to d

    • > Is it really that difficult to push four buttons at once?
      > What are we now, chimps?

      It's certainly not easy to do by yourself. You have to hold the stylus between your knees, balance the phone on top of the stylus by holding it at just the right angle with the fingers of your left hand. Then use your left thumb to push one button, your right index and ring to push to more, all while pushing down straight enough to activate the microswitch the stylus is sitting on.
  • FTFA

    Fabris, Palm's director of wireless solutions, said the company may warn customers in an upcoming newsletter about the risks of selling their used phones after AP's inquiries. "It might behoove us to raise this issue," Fabris said.
    I would expect someone who uses 'behoove' so obliquely in conversation to be snappy enough to have already reached this conclusion.
  • I need software to read deleted short messages from a Samsung a900.

    And before you ask, YES, it's my phone.
  • by gjh (231652) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @11:49AM (#16016873)
    This is going to read like an advert however I phrase. I *do* work for Nokia on this product. I don't think I am unreasonably biased.

    The industry is already aware of the problem and has solved it.... the answer is:

    Nokia/IntelliSync Device Manager OMA [nokiaforbusiness.com]

    You buy a per device license and you can then use the licenses in any ratio between the Professional Edition (which specializes in PDA management) and the OMA edition which specializes in phones. With the OMA edition - for which I developed the training class - you can establish a secure trusted connection to the handset. A 4-digit hex fingerprint is required to avoid MITM. From that point on - any action can be carried out by the central adminstrator without further user intervention, including application installation, settings, inventory, and a complete device wipe. Available applications include Blackberry and 4-5 other email solutions, Norton AV, and Pointsec flash disk encryption.

    The problem is not the technology the technology is HERE. The problems are:
    1. Persuading business to organize their handsets with the same zeal as their PCs
    2. Selling this kind of thing through cell operators - who have a vested interest in you using your handset LESS cost effectively.

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