WIPING AN Android phone for privacy reasons is a waste of time, according to security firm Avast.
Avast suggests that you might as well not bother, or open up a portal to another world and throw your hardware into that.
The firm carried out a "digital forensics" study of a collection of handsets that it bought on the second hand market. It found that the phones that it bought contained a treasure trove of personal content, including the kind of imagery that people like to keep close to home.
It said that it found thousands of pieces of content that people will have thought had been deleted.
"The sensitive information includes pictures (even very private ones!), videos, contacts, SMS messages, Facebook chat logs, Google searches, GPS location coordinates, and more," it added.
The firm said that punters will assume that using an onboard factory wipe option will factory wipe a device. This is wrong, said Avast, as what actually happens is that the hardware tricks itself into thinking that the storage space is free and available for writing over.
"When people want to delete a file, most will use the standard features that come with their operating system. After it's done, they consider the unwanted data to be gone forever. However, this is not true," it said.
In statements the firm said that the amount of data, some 40,000 items, that it uncovered was "astounding".
"The amount of personal data we retrieved from the phones was astounding. We found everything from a filled-out loan form to more than 250 selfies of what appear to be the previous owner's manhood," said Jude McColgan, president of mobile at Avast.
"We purchased a variety of Android devices from sellers across the US and used readily available recovery software to dig up personal information that was previously on the phones. The take-away is that even deleted data on your used phone can be recovered unless you completely overwrite it."
Among the 40,000 photos were a number of nudes, including 750 shots of ladies in various states of undress, and, as Avast said, 250 selfies of "what appear to be the previous owner's manhood".
Photos were not the only content found in Avast's haul, and it said that it turned up a number of personal contacts, google searches, and at least one fully completed loan application.
It said that this stuff combined could be a virtual crowbar into a person's private life and finances.
Apparently Avast provides software that can save you from your selfies and the world from your junk. µ
German encoding machine found in shed in Essex
Firm also reveals lower powered but svelte Transformer 3
Whistleblower opened debate on government surveillance, according to Eric Holder
Focuses on improving battery life and smarter sensing