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One Step Ahead
February 6, 2007, Volume 53, No. 21

One Step Ahead

Another tip in a series provided by the Offices of Information Systems & Computing and Audit, Compliance & Privacy.

Wipe Cell Phones and Other Wireless Devices Securely Before Disposal

As we all know, cell phones today are not just for having telephone conversations. You can surf the Internet, send and receive e-mail and text messages, keep your calendar, manage contacts, shoot photos and videos and even listen to music. Along with all of those great features comes a potential risk that personal information could be available to strangers after your phone is sold or donated.

With the average life of a cell phone at about 1 1/2 years, most of us will go through several different phones a decade, so it is important to learn how to dispose of them properly, while protecting our personal privacy and avoiding other data breaches.  The exact steps to securely wipe clean your old phone depend upon the model that you have. Wirelessrecycling.com offers instructions for many different phones, PDAs, and smart phones. Palm has a unique method for their products that will allow you to overwrite your data with 1’s and O’s, ensuring your privacy. More information about Palm’s “zero-out” method can be found on their website www.palm.com. Contact your cell service provider for more information about your particular model and assistance.

Cell phones can have a productive second life after we’re finished with them, but making sure they are clean should be a priority before sending them out the door.

For additional tips, see the One Step Ahead link on the Information Security website: www.upenn.edu/computing/security/.

Almanac - February 6, 2007, Volume 53, No. 21