iPhones sold as refurbished unit reveals previous owners personal data

BY Jason

Published 19 May 2008

Refurbished iPhones might be a good deal for the new owners, but it might come as a rude shock for previous owners to know that iPhones they had sold and now available as refurbished units might still contain their personal data.

Zdziarski, the iPhone hacking genius and also the author of “iPhone Open Application Development” has revealed this after a verified detective from the Oregon State Police notified him about the issue.

One of the common misconception iPhone users have is to believe that restoring the iPhone deletes personal data from the device.

In fact mail, contacts, text messages and various other personal data do not get deleted after a restore and hence is should not be considered as a preparatory measure before selling the iPhone.

Here is what Zdziarski had to say:

"A verified detective from the Oregon State Police notified me this afterrnoon that an out-of-the-box refurbished iPhone he purchased contained recoverable personal data including email, personal photos, and even financial information which he was able to recover using my forensic toolkit. The photos he sent me included the individual’s name, which I’ve blurred out myself, but if you’ve ever had to return a defective iPhone, you might recognize this inbox. The more sensitive information hasn’t been posted here for obvious reasons."

Checkout the screenshot which shows the data from the refurbished iPhone published by Zdziarski.

I don’t think this would be an issue with certified refurbished iPhones sold by Apple or AT&T (if you notice the tipster did not mention where he bought the refurbished iPhone from). However, it is something you might want to take care of, if you are planning to sell your iPhone on eBay.

If you are planning to sell your iPhone the only option you have as of
now is to manually delete such personal data as there is no application
currently available to iPhone users that is capable of deleting this data. Zdziarski
does mention that there are also couple low-level methods to format the
NAND but has not divulged any details.

This warning is especially for all those gadget freaks out there who are planning to get their hands on the 3G iPhone by selling the older version of the iPhone.

[via Zdziarski’s blog]


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