The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has issued its first guide for citizens buying or selling used internet-enabled devices to prevent criminals from accessing personal information that remains after the format process. As transactions associated with second-hand devices are expected to rise following the holiday season, the NCSC is keen on spreading awareness to consumers set out to replace, trade or market their used mobile phones, tablets or computers.
“At this time of year many of us take advantage of the pre-owned tech market, either to grab a bargain or cash in on a device we no longer need,” NCSC Deputy Director for Economy and Society Sarah Lyons noted. “We want consumers to make the most of this market, but we also want them to be aware of the risks around security and personal data and what they can do to protect themselves.”
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The guide’s focus is to give shoppers insights into how to safeguard personal and sensitive data before selling or acquiring used devices:
- Erase data from devices – the first step before listing your used devices for sale online is to make sure you erase any personal information on the device. On mobile devices, you can delete all of your data by using the factory reset feature. You can also head to the manufacturer’s website for steps on how to erase your information from particular devices. Don’t forget to back up your data and review online accounts accessed using the device you want to get rid of. Link your other devices to any smart gadgets in your home to ensure easy management and access.
- Choose a second-hand device wisely – avoid purchasing old devices no longer supported by the manufacturer. Devices that don’t receive updates pose high-security risks and are often exploited by cybercriminals.
- Using pre-owned tech – after buying your second-hand device, perform a factory reset or format. Ensure that the previous owner’s data has been erased, including any messages, photos, browsing history, passwords and installed apps.