A TAMWORTH computer specialist has warned locals to use their common sense before taking unsavoury photos following an epidemic of phone and computer hacking scandals across the globe.
In the age of social media and selfies, even Hollywood’s elite were no strangers to hackers this week after nude photos emerged of several of its brightest stars.
Back in Tamworth, Clearview IT principal consultant Andrew Daws has warned locals they could find themselves in the same situation if they don’t take the proper measures to delete their private images.
A photo which you may have thought was deleted long ago, could easily be recovered with the right tools, he told The Leader.
“What happens is the computer doesn’t actually delete the file, it deletes the index for that file so it doesn’t know where to find it anymore,” Mr Daws said. “If you delete a file and didn’t mean to do it, you can go back and get it back.
“This is what’s happening on the phone as well.
“On a PC (personal computer) you can run a program and write over the top of what you just deleted – on a phone you can do the same thing, but it’s a bit more of a challenge. People go and factory reset their phones and think they’re deleting everything, but they’re not.
“It means someone who knows how can bring a fair bit of it back.”
While it’s been an issue on his radar for some time, Mr Daws said he believes people are only starting to realise the magnitude of the situation.
“I’m hoping more tools will become available and that the companies who make the products themselves are able to release some software tools.
“Some are starting to appear. It’s an awareness thing. Ultimately people are just becoming aware of the problem and are only just looking for answers now.”
But when it comes to the hackers of Hollywood, he said the problem lies up in the “clouds.”
“Most of the celebrity hacking, including the stuff we’ve heard about this week, is not the phone itself being hacked,”he said.
“It’s the cloud service linked to the phone.
“A lot of phones, android or Apple, or some other flavour have a cloud account where they can take a photo or video and it stores a copy of that information on the cloud,” he said.
“People are using email addresses and passwords for that service in other places as well – just so they don’t have to remember too many credentials.
“So what happens is those other things are getting hacked and it gives hackers a window into the whole world of that person.”
Five ways to avoid being hacked
1. If you onsell your phone or replace your old phone, find someone who works with the devices to wipe them properly.
2. If the phone is damaged and you’re going to throw it away, make sure it’s really damaged (maybe with the aid of a hammer).
3. Don’t reuse email addresses and password combinations for cloud services.
4. Use a password manager – it can create credentials for you that are virtually unhackable.
5. Most smartphones and tablets also have external memory cards. Make sure you remove these before you onsell/destroy the device.