Privacy of 500 million Android users at risk: Data on phones can’t be wiped

“Up to 500 million Andriod users who use or have used Android software could be at risk from having personal information shared after tests revealed it’s impossible to clear data from many devices,” James Dunn reports for The Daily Mail. “A report by Cambridge University showed that private text messages, images, videos and email details can be recovered, even after a total wipe – or factory reset – has been done. It means that people who have given away, sold or lost phones are now at risk from having their personal details and any private or sensitive information in messages or emails seen by whoever now has their old phone.”

“They could also access third party applications. Many phone users store financial information and do their banking through some of the most popular apps on tablets and phones such as Halifax and Nat West,” Dunn reports. “Researchers also recovered Google authentication tokens, allowing to access services which are synced across a number of devices, including Gmail, YouTube, and any images or videos stored using Google cloud services.”

“They also discovered that up to 630million phones may not wipe internal SD cards, which often store most of the images and videos on a phone,” Dunn reports. “Speaking to Ars Technica, Computer Scientist Kenn White said: ‘It’s a staggering number of devices out there that are exposed, and it’s not just somebody’s Gmail password. It’s images, photos, text, chat. It’s all these things that are private that you think if you’ve reset it you’ve reset it.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: “Open.”

Now to be fair, this is only because Android is an inferior product peddled to tech illiterates who do not value their privacy and/or who are unable to recognize a half-assed knockoff from the revolutionary original.

Android is a BlackBerry clone that was hastily rejiggered to mimic iPhone at the last minute. Obviously, mistakes were made.

So, the Android rush-job is a security nightmare. It’s fragmented. It’s too many cooks in the kitchen. It’s crap-by-committee junk.

And anyone who rewards blatant thieves by settling for Android deserves their fate.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz,” “Mark,” and “Lynn Weiler” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Prior to Steve Jobs unveiling of Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android didn’t support touchscreen input – April 14, 2014
Before iPhone, Google’s plan was a Java button phone, Android docs reveal – April 14, 2014
How Google reacted when Steve Jobs revealed the revolutionary iPhone – December 19, 2013
Apple to ITC: Android started at Apple while Andy Rubin worked for us – September 2, 2011


          1. A May 2015 poll conducted by Quinnipiac University has revealed the most trusted network and cable news channels in the United States: Fox News.

            Fox News’ success in this poll should come as little surprise, given the channel’s popularity and massive ratings. In 2014, it was ranked far and above all other so-called “news” networks in total viewers and in prime demographics. It also had the top five programs in cable news in both total viewers and the coveted adults aged between 25 and 54.

            1. …it was ranked far and above all other so-called “news” networks…
              I’ll agree – it’s probably the best “so-called news” network.

              Now as for real news networks, I’m still searching for one with no bias or agenda – neither liberal or conservative. Wish me luck with that!

            2. Fwhatever, I find it humorous that you are trumpeting a 29% rating as a massive victory. The real story is that none of the news agencies comes anywhere close to a 50% rating – that shows how low the media has sunk in this country.

              As far as the Fox News victory goes, I believe that it has a lot to do with the fact that Fox is designed to specifically appeal to a portion of the political spectrum in the U.S. The rest of the electorate are spread out across the other news agencies while the ultra conservative subset is concentrated with Fox News and tend to staunchly adhere to its brand.

            3. “The rest of the electorate are spread out across the other news agencies” because the rest of the U.S. mainstream media are nothing more than outlets for leftist, statist propaganda.

              Fox News remains the dominant ratings force. Behind the highest-rated programs in cable news — including “The O’Reilly Factor,” which was again top dog among all programs — Fox News finished on top in both total viewers and the adults 25-54 news demo for a 13th straight year, according to Nielsen. Fox News was also the only cable newser up in the demo in primetime, as it opened up bigger advantages over the runner-up network in both 25-54 and total viewers.

              MSNBC was down across the board, including declines in the demo of nearly 20%. CNN fell off by 8% in overall primetime viewership. MSNBC saw both “The Rachel Maddow Show” and “The Lawrence O’Donnell Show” deliver all-time lows.

              Fox News: The network had the top five programs in cable news in both total viewers and adults 25-54. In total viewers, “O’Reilly Factor” (2.667 million) was followed by “The Kelly File” (2.204 million), “The Five” (2.057 million), “Special Report with Bret Baier” (1.985 million) and “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren” (1.749 million). And in the demo, “O’Reilly” (426,000) was followed by “Kelly File” (374,000), “The Five” (324,000), “Hannity” (311,000) and “Special Report” (303,000).

              among all cablers in total viewers, Fox News Channel was the most-watched network from 9 to 11 a.m. ET (“America’s Newsroom”), 5-6 p.m. ET (“The Five”), 6-7 p.m. ET (“Special Report with Bret Baier”) and 8-9 p.m. ET (“The O’Reilly Factor”).

              “O’Reilly Factor” marked its 15th consecutive year as the No. 1 cable news program in its timeslot in both adults 25-54 and total viewers, and it’s the No. 1 show in cable news for a 14th straight year in the demo and 13th straight in total viewers.

              And in its first full year, the Megyn Kelly-hosted “Kelly File” stood as the only primetime program in cable news up in its timeslot (9-10 p.m. ET) vs. last year in both total viewers (10%) and the 25-54 demo (5%).

              Primetime Total Viewers:
              Fox News – 1.779 million
              MSNBC – 600,000
              CNN – 528,000
              HLN – 337,000

              Total Day Total Viewers:
              Fox News – 1.058 million
              CNN – 402,000
              MSNBC – 350,000
              HLN – 259,000

              No contest.

            4. BTW, as for “First 2014”

              The 2014 U.S. elections saw sweeping gains by the Republican Party in the Senate, House, and in numerous gubernatorial, state, and local races. The Republicans gained control of the Senate and increased their majority in the House. The Republicans also gained two more seats in governors’ races.

              Overall, the 2014 elections resulted in the largest Republican majority in the entire country in nearly a century, with 54 seats in the Senate, 247 in the House, 31 governorships (62%), and 68 state legislative chambers. Moreover, Republicans gained their largest majority in the House since 1928, the largest majority in Congress overall since 1928, and the largest majority of state legislatures since 1928.

              Bring on 2016!

              Marco Rubio. (This is not an endorsement, currently, merely a prediction.)

              Dear Jesus, please let them nominate Hillary. I’ll sell one of my “other” boats and donate the proceeds to the Little Sisters of the Poor, I promise!

            5. With all due respect, as an ex-Republican I see little to no difference in the two parties, and no reason to trumpet one group of amoral windbags over another.

              I came to this conclusion after years of attacking liberal stupidity but coming to the sad realization that I could not defend GOP stupidity either.
              They’re two sides of the same coin.

              Lastly, as a Christian, I also realized that the level of corruption in American government was and is impossible to ignore. There *may* be honest men in congress, but there’s no way to be sure I’m not being hoodwinked. The entire system is rotten to the core.

              Every time the primaries roll around I find the guy with the most common sense and (as far as I can tell) integrity. Not once has my pick gone the distance. The people get the government they deserve, and Americans have a masochistic knack for picking stuffed shirts and baboons to lead them.

              Your constant ‘First 2014, Then 2016’ mantra is just sad. You think like the liberals did when they ushered in their guy in 2008.
              So you’ll rejoice when Rubio (or the guy with the most cash) gets elected, but guess what?
              Nothing will change except the bed sheets in the White House.

            6. Well stated.

              If 2014/2016 actually cared about good government he would be for limiting government’s freedom to be corrupt, not toadying for politicians.

              The answer to political corruption is to limit government’s ability to screw up in sensible ways, like with a balanced budget, and conflict-of-interest rules for congressional committees.

              2014/2016’s dogma that either of the parties is to be trusted reflects an agenda that has nothing to do with making the US stronger and everything to do with politicians war on accountability.

            7. Well stated, sir! I have the exact same sentiments you do. Republican and Democrat should really be two different brand names for anal lubricant sold at the local pharmacy.

              The last chance “we the people” had at influence in the election process evaporated when the SCOTUS decided corporations were people too and could empty their coffers into the election process. Corporations with special interests are definitely in control now if they weren’t before. Worst SCOTUS decision ever.

            8. First 2014, Then 2016,

              I don’t think you understand what “most trusted” means. It doesn’t mean that Fox (or any of the channels) are the most truthful, but just that they are the most trusted with viewers, which just means that Fox viewers just found a channel that will confirm their biases and prejudices and tell them what they want to hear, whether it be the actual truth or not. This is why they trust it.

              What your chart really tells me is that the people watching the lower bar channels are most likely more skeptical, rational, and don’t completely trust the channel, while the Fox bar shows that, like a crazy conspiracy theorist, viewers eat it up. They only want to hear what they BELIEVE is the truth, and nothing will change their mind. Even if the real truth conflicts with the belief, the truth will be turned around to fit the belief (for example, polling people about the most trusted news channel, which makes it seem like highest rated would the most truthful. But, Trust ≠ Truth). It’s the belief that the viewers trust, not reality. This is probably why most religious people tend to flock to Fox. Belief trumps reality, and they only trust their belief.

              So, what that chart says to me is that “Longer bars are worse” And I’m not saying the other “news” channels are necessarily better. All news channels these days are unfortunatlely just opinion channels. But, regarding the other channels, viewers at least seem to be a bit more skeptical that they aren’t getting the whole truth. But with Fox news and the high trust rating, it just says that the viewers are only looking for “comfirmation bias” (look it up).

              What Quinnipiac University should have done is, rather than poll people and how they “feel” about each channel, they should have analyzed fact vs. fiction with each news channel… if they were in fact actually trying to find out which channel is the most truthful.

  1. Early versions of the iPhone didn’t encrypt storage. I can’t comprehend that current Android phones don’t have a secure envelope. Recover keys? That’s ridiculous. There should be a wipeable secure enclave for the key that accesses storage. This should have military wipe, unrecoverable keys…

    Really bad design. Don’t ever sell an Android, used. You now have to destroy them.. Preferably in acid or fire.

  2. It’s an indication that Android device makers ONLY care about the immediate sale. Can’t upgrade to the latest OS version and built-in software; we don’t care. Having problems with malware; we don’t care. And can’t fully wipe personal data from device before selling it; we don’t care…

    They don’t care, because Android devices are sold based on the current “best deal.” And that’s an immediate sale consideration, not long term support consideration. There’s “no money” for them in thinking about the existing customer AFTER the sale.

    In contrast, Apple can only thrive with customer loyalty. There are no “best deals,” only predictable and consistent deals. iPhone customers MUST return later to buy another one, or Apple ultimately fails. Therefore, Apple treats its customers as ONGOING customers, to promote loyalty.

    1. Sipping a delicious adult beverage in Apple’s Walled Garden is soooo relaxing.
      – Far better than drinking rainwater from a hoof print in Android’s Wild West.

    1. This is exactly right. Take any negative story about Samsung or Android and change it to Apple or iOS, and it’d be “Apple is Doomed!” all over.

  3. I don’t know if I believe that there are actually 500 million actual users of Android droppings, but even if there are, I don’t think a privacy breach for that crowd is any big deal since people like that don’t have much of a life to begin with.

  4. Those in the health care industry that deployed android based handsets and tablets may have the most at risk. I have no idea how their apps are written, or how must data is ever resident on the device but, I do know that much HIPAA protected data is collected using handsets and tablets.

    1. Except that the medical system’s “risk” is with all of OUR data, so even those of us who try to secure our lives with better quality products get screwed over by idiots going cheap!

  5. Expect to now see a small market for proper wiping Apps appear in Google Play and Amazon store.. Half the effort of solving a problem is identifying it first..

    So if you read between the lines, Android devices that use KitKat or above (Just under 50% of devices that access the Google Play store in the last 7 day period measured) wipe data properly,

  6. When I buy a new phone, most of the time I run my old one through a crusher for this exact reason.

    The one time I actually sold my old phone, on top of doing a factory wipe I also changed all my passwords to all the accounts I had on it.

    Because of the way flash storage works, this same thing could also be done on an iPhone if someone with a special hardware reader attached it directly to the chip on the board. Not as easy, mind you, but this is why I think that EVERYONE both Android and iPhone users alike should be mindful when getting rid of an older device.

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