Tablet and smartphone remote wipe functions have been used by criminals to wipe mobile devices that were seized by officers and secured in police stations.
BBC News has reported that Cambridgeshire, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Durham police have all found that data on stored handsets had been remotely ‘wiped’ before being accessed as part of criminal investigations.
Dorset police have also said six of the devices they had seized within one year from suspects held in custody had been cleaned of data while held in storage.
The technology, which was intended to combat mobile crime, was designed to allow owners to remove sensitive data from their phones if they are stolen.
The BBC report quotes a Mr Munro, who analyses hundreds of laptops, tablets, phones and other devices for corporate clients, who said: “When we seize a device for digital forensics, we put it immediately into a radio-frequency shielded bag, which prevents any signals from getting through.
“If we can’t get to the scene within an hour, we tell the client to pop it in a microwave oven.
“The microwave is reasonably effective as a shield against mobile or tablet signals – just don’t turn it on.”
You have been warned!
Mobile devices that can be wiped remotely include the following brands:
Thanks to iCloud, you can now locate and remotely erase any iPhone. While you still have the device, head to Settings > iCloud and turn on Find My iPhone if it isn’t already enabled.
Android Lost adds remote find and wipe capability. In a corporate setting, IT managers deploying Android devices can enable native remote wipe capability by installing Google Apps Device Policy, although it can’t be added retroactively.
Microsoft Windows Phone
For any Windows Phone device, head to www.windowsphone.com on a desktop or laptop PC and sign in, then click My Phone. From here, you can locate the phone with GPS, erase all the data, lock the phone and display a message, or change your password.
BlackBerry Protect, a free app that lets you find, lock, or wipe your BlackBerry from a remote location. Any BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) handset can be erased remotely via the Erase Data and Disable Handheld IT administration command over the wireless network.
- Devices being remotely wiped in police custody, By Jane Wakefield, BBC News, October 10, 2014.
- How to Remotely Disable Your Lost or Stolen Phone, By Jamie Lendino, PC, April 12, 2012.
Want a little help and advice about information security risks? Are you looking to gain ISO27001 certification in 2015 to put in place an effective Information Security Management System (ISMS)?
ISO27001 is the international information security management best-practice standard that will help you protect your information assets, comply with local compliance requirements and thrive as you give your customers confidence that their information is protected
Find out more about ISO27001 and our packaged solutions to help you implement the standard at a speed and budget appropriate to you
Take a look at our ‘Get A Little Help’ package. It contains the core ISO27001 standards, two ISO7001 implementation guidance manuals, implementation tools, and attendance at our live online Lead Implementer and Lead Auditor training masterclasses. Ideal for organisations that already have some management system expertise (with ISO9001, or ISO20000, for instance) and an initial understanding of information security management.
Introductory offer: Save 10% when bought in October 2014.