How Can Mobile Resellers Ensure Smartphones Are Free from Malware Before Selling?

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Summary: As the global requirement for second-hand mobile devices grows, so does the scope of business for second-hand mobile resellers. However, security concerns pertaining to SMS phone-verified account services have highlighted that malware-infected mobile phones are being used to register fake accounts for committing fraud. This poses a significant risk for new smartphone users. This blog provides an overview of the importance of securely wiping smartphones which helps in removing malware.

As the demand for smartphones continues to grow, so does the market for used devices. This market had a size of around 50 billion dollars in 2020, and it is anticipated to increase at a CAGR of 10.2 percent to reach 143.8 billion dollars by 2031. That means the number of refurbished and used smartphones will rise from 251 million in 2021 to around 450 million in 2027. Refurbishers and second-hand mobile resellers would sell a major chunk of these devices and must ensure that these used mobile devices are safe and malware free.

Importance of Data Wiping for Mobile Resellers:

The importance of securely wiping a smartphone before re-selling is evident from the amount of personal and professional data it contains. This data includes social security numbers, biometric information, medical records, passport information, social security number, credit card number, or banking login information. Unfortunately, most people think performing a factory reset or formatting a phone is enough to wipe the device data. Sadly, that’s not the case, as this data can be recovered using DIY data recovery software.

Furthermore, evidence suggests malicious Android apps are utilized to intercept SMS built on Android devices with SMS-intercepting malware. The number of short message service (SMS) phone-verified account (PVA) services has increased in the past few years. Customers can register for online services and platforms using alternative mobile numbers provided by SMS PVA services. These services make it easier to go around the SMS verification processes frequently employed by online platforms and businesses to verify new accounts. However, malicious actors can generate phone-verified accounts or register throwaway accounts in bulk for illegal purposes. This risk will be carried forward to the new user and can lead to financial fraud, identity theft, and physical & emotional threats.

Hence, it would be the responsibility of the mobile reseller to ensure the security and safety of the used mobile device. This responsibility also includes ensuring the device is free of malware or other hazardous software. The last thing you want as a mobile retailer is for someone to buy a second-hand smartphone and have their personal information compromised because as not performed properly on the device. This scenario can also lead to legal repercussions and non-compliance with prevailing laws and regulations

How Can Mobile Resellers Remove Malware on Smartphones?

There are many ways to remove malware from smartphones; choosing the method should be decided based on your requirement for performing bulk wiping of mobile devices and ease of application. Here are a few tips on how to remove malware from smartphones:

Antivirus App: Antivirus apps can scan your phone for malware and remove it. Although Android has several built-in security mechanisms to guard against malware and hackers, they are insufficient to shield you from all the risks. It’s here that antiviruses come into the picture. Many paid applications for that job are available in the market, like AVG AntiVirus, McAfee, Kaspersky, Quick Heal, etc.

Factory reset: In essence, factory resetting your phone will erase all data, including any malware; however, a factory reset performs all the formatting functions and removes the operating system from your mobile. Similar outcomes in terms of data security are produced by factory reset; the data is still traceable and can be recovered using a DIY data recovery program and cannot guarantee the removal of malware.

Flash a ROM: In terms of the Android OS, a ROM includes the OS interface and any firmware and apps downloaded to the device’s read-only memory. Users can modify this firmware and interface by altering or updating the ROM, known as “Flashing a ROM.” Flashing a new ROM will also erase all data from your phone, and it can be a good way to get rid of persistent malware, but flashing a ROM can be done by experts only as it’s not a normal layman’s process.

Secure Erasure: To ensure that the device is completely wiped of all data, a user must perform secure erasure; we recommend using software like BitRaser Mobile Eraser & Diagnostics. This software will not only erase all of the data on your smartphone but also overwrite it so that any attempts to recover the data will be unsuccessful. Furthermore, it also makes the device ready to use as OS is either reinstalled or updated as per device type. This method is ideal for refurbishers and mobile retailers that deal with bulk data wiping of mobile devices to get economies of scale.  

Conclusion

If you are a mobile retailer, a refurbisher, a mobile reseller, or the like, buying and selling devices in bulk. In that case, you should ensure that personal data on the device has been securely wiped and that the device is free from malware. A standardized procedure for ensuring that each device has been securely wiped and free from malware must be adopted to protect the new smartphone owner and the reseller. Do you have any other questions about mobile erasure or diagnosis? Please share them with us in the comments below!

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