Why Smartphone Erasure is Essential for the Mobile Reseller Market

With the price of new smartphones reaching fever-pitch, many consumers are turning to used devices to address their needs. In fact, the second-hand mobile market is projected to be worth circa $30 billion by 2020, according to IDC. For warehouses and enterprises dealing with the sanitization and onward sale of unwanted devices for resale, security and efficiency of processing are two core pain points; mobile device erasure is essential. But […]

Rohan Bapat is the Senior Director of Product Management. In this role, he determines customers' product needs, guides product improvements and assesses market competition. He's regarded as a mobile diagnostics expert and often provides valuable tips on how businesses, mobile carriers and OEMs can optimize device performance to reduce NTF returns, increase productivity and boost customer loyalty.

With the price of new smartphones reaching fever-pitch, many consumers are turning to used devices to address their needs. In fact, the second-hand mobile market is projected to be worth circa $30 billion by 2020, according to IDC. For warehouses and enterprises dealing with the sanitization and onward sale of unwanted devices for resale, security and efficiency of processing are two core pain points; mobile device erasure is essential.

But why is data erasure essential in the mobile reseller market? When devices are recycled or resold, legacy data lives on in the device. This means sensitive data, including anything from social media passwords to social security numbers, could still be accessed by the device’s next owner if the device is not wiped properly. As you would expect, this poses a great security risk to the original owner, especially if the device is being recycled for a business and contains sensitive customer data. This situation could lead to more serious legal repercussions.

The Importance of Smartphone Erasure

Mobile devices for business use, such as the work smartphones many of us are issued by our employer, or the BYOD devices we use to access sensitive corporate information, pose a great threat to cyber security. It is these endpoint devices, along with laptops and other company-issued devices, that are a business’s weakest link in data protection. Most businesses, unsurprisingly, choose to redistribute used devices to newer employees once their original owners depart the company or no longer have use for the device, and this handover can present a security risk.

As you can probably imagine, when a smartphone is used for company business, sensitive data is stored on the device. For example, if a sales representative is accessing his/her email account, or private documents containing customer data, on his/her device, this data remains on the device until it is securely wiped or erased. When said device is passed into the care of another employee, perhaps from the marketing department, without proper sanitization and data erasure, that person is now privy to sensitive customer records. What’s then stopping that person from distributing that information, causing a data breach? It may seem unlikely, but companies must be take steps to ensure it’s not a risk.

The risk associated with smartphone redistribution within a business is positively minute compared to the risk those devices pose if resold to the public. Naturally, there will be instances where businesses no longer need their legacy devices, and it makes smart business sense to sell these on to an external reseller. In this case, however, the above risk of a data breach increases exponentially, as rather than an internal member of staff receiving sensitive data, someone outside of the business may have access. This is completely disastrous for all businesses as they are legally bound to protect customer data, and so secure data erasure must be verified when company smartphones move out of the business for redistribution.

Erasure as the First Step in Mobile Resale

We’ve established why it’s so important to have a data erasure policy for your company smartphones. Let’s take a closer look at that reseller market, and the way these businesses must protect against data breaches.

The reseller market is huge, and as such is very competitive. Providing a secure, trustworthy and compliant data erasure service to customers is an essential part of any reseller business, and verifying and certifying this erasure is the best way to ensure customers are satisfied. Data security is no laughing matter for consumers and businesses around the world. Data breaches are increasing year on year at an alarming rate., and consumers are concerned. By providing a service which accurately diagnoses any device issues and securely erases all content before resale, your business is in standing to resolve any concerns. Secure data erasure is not, however, as simple as performing a factory reset in many situations.

As discovered in our State of Mobile Device Repair & Security Report for Q4 2017, 99% of the market is dominated by Apple and Android, so let’s begin our focus there. Customers are having difficulty updating to the latest Android operating systems, which could pose a barrier to success when diagnosing issues and erasing mobile device data. The Blancco State of Mobile Device Repair & Security Report showed that Oreo, the latest iteration of Google’s sweetshop of OSs, is proving much less popular than its namesake – fewer than 1% of Android devices on the market are currently running Oreo, compared to the huge 88.8% of iOS devices running the latest iOS 11. For mobile resellers, this intel is particularly important; mobile data erasure is vital to devices running older software, as today’s standard end-to-end encryption is simply not present in many older Android devices.

The only way to erase data on devices running legacy software is to conduct a secure erasure with software-based overwriting, an issue which is likely to continue for several years, thanks to Android users’ propensity to stick with older OS versions. Strictly speaking: when it comes to Android, best practice dictates the use of overwriting across the board to avoid any lapses in success.

Blancco’s Mobile Device Eraser software enables your organization to permanently erase mobile data from smartphones and tablets running iOS, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry operating systems. This data is certified as irretrievable and completely erased with a tamper-proof Certificate of Erasure, allowing for the confident resale of the smartphone devices without the worry of potential security issues.

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