Businesses urged to secure mobiles before recycling

UK's largest mobile recycler finds 99 per cent of phones handed in contain sensitive data

Europe's largest mobile phone recycler has urged businesses to wipe their handsets before handing them over for recycling or risk potentially embarrassing security breaches.

Oxford-based Regenersis, announced last week that it processed more than two million handsets for reuse and recycling in 2008, the equivalent of one every 15 seconds.

But in a random sample of 2,000 handsets processed in the first week of December, 99 per cent were found to contain some sort of personal data, including contacts, SMS messages, pictures, music, videos, calendar entries, emails, notes, mailing lists and to-do lists.

In some cases, extremely sensitive information was contained, including bank details, addresses and confidential emails.

"Data clearance of these handsets is critical to ensure the security of those who entrust their unwanted mobiles to us," said Mark Franklin, managing director of Regenersis, adding that while it could take up to 30 minutes to wipe a phone of all its confidential data, firms should take time to either wipe the data themselves or ensure their recycler will do so.

"Our advice to consumers is to check with the recycling firm to confirm that all data will be removed," he said. "If it doesn't, then think twice before sending them your handset as your data could end up in the wrong hands."

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