Properly Dispose of Property & Evidence – Why So Important
Updated: Feb 8, 2021
Many companies have the weighty responsibility to properly dispose of personal items left behind. Hotels, casinos, and police departments are a few such companies. It is not uncommon for such establishments to be unaware of just how big a responsibility this is.
One hotel for example, had learned this lesson the hard way. The hotel had donated its’ smartphones to a local charity, a method many companies use. The charity organized a local auction and sold all the devices; no testing or clearing was done. One smartphone buyer noticed that the device he purchased still contained the original owners’ personal and confidential information. Fortunately, the buyer was an honest man. He contacted the hotel to let them know the device he just purchased still had all their guests’ personal information. He returned the device, and the hotel was very grateful.
This was certainly a dodged bullet. Imagine if that phone had landed in the hands of a not-so honest person. The results surely would not have been as favorable. Identity theft, misuse of intimate photos, access to personal information, just to name a few. And who would the blame fall to? The Hotel that sold the phone.
If this isn’t enough to convince you to examine your lost and found protocol, look at this study we conducted ourselves. We purchased 10 devices from PropertyRoom.com to see if there was, indeed, data left behind. (Propertyroom.com sells items on behalf of law enforcement and public agency clients. Many of the smartphones they list are being sold in “as-is” condition. Devices are listed as "untested due to the fact it does not power on, does not take charge, sold as is, for parts, may be account or carrier locked"). Untested essentially means uncleared.
Here are the results:
2 were simple feature phones with no user locks. All data on the devices was available.
2 iPhones were iCloud locked. Data was encrypted and we were unable to recover any data.
1 Android smartphone was un-repairable and we were unable to recover any data.
3 Android smartphones were repaired. These devices had no user lock, and photos, videos, text messages, and contacts were easily recovered.
2 Android smartphones were repaired. They had user locks; however, after a factory reset, photos (including pornography), videos, text messages, and contacts were easily recovered.
Another way businesses will handle the devices in their possession is to smash them. This is not effective either. We have helped law enforcement recover data from destroyed devices on multiple occasions. The phone itself may be destroyed, but the data on it is very much alive.
For you to keep your business safe, you must take the proper steps to clear the electronics in your property and evidence rooms, so you are not left liable. But how? First of all, ask yourself, “if I lost my device on our property and could not recover it, would I be satisfied with the way we dispose of it?” That’s the simplest, and most effective, way to determine whether you are handling guest devices properly. If the answer is no, The 911 Cellphone bank can help.
In November of 2014 the 911 Cell Phone Bank created the DATA SECURE program. Through this program we help lost and found departments and property and evidence rooms safely and securely dispose of the electronic devices in their possession. Through our program we delete all data and securely dispose of the devices we receive. It’s 100% FREE to use our program.
A simple factory reset is not enough to prevent a data breach. Our method using Blancco erasure software, ensures data is compliant with all data privacy regulations and guidelines, including ISO 27001 and ISO 27040.
The 911 Cell Phone Bank is proud to use Blancco software. They ensure that extra layer of security to protect your personal data. Every erasure is tested, certified and approved. Leading organizations across the globe, and government officials recommend this software.
You can trust that your device will be properly cleared when donating to The 911 Cell Phone Bank.