Wiping smartphones, fighting malware and Sprint’s new mobile security service

Tuesday, 05 December 2017, 05:28:10 AM. If you’re buying a used phone, make sure it’s clean, plus tips from Sprint on its new mobile security service that offers a basic version for free.

Q:  Do Sprint and others have anti-spyware and anti-malware on phones? Please remind people not to buy phones from door-to-door salespeople. People are selling old phones, they are not cleared, they are redistributing spyware. ~ Janet

Tech+ Janet has a good tip: If you’re buying a used phone, make sure it’s clean. Run the “Factory reset” feature to restore the phone back to the way the manufacturer originally sold it. For Android devices, “a factory reset erases all data from the device,” according to Android’s help page on how to reset a device. The steps are listed at dpo.st/androidreset.

Ditto for iPhones and iOS devices, though Apple gives users the option to restore contacts, calendars and other settings in the process. Details are at dpo.st/iphonereset.

One warning for those getting rid of an old phone. Even though Apple and Google’s Android say all data is deleted, some security firms discovered that factory resets didn’t delete all the data. Avast Software was able to pull up 40,000 photos on old phones that had been wiped clean. The company offers a free mobile app with a “thorough wipe” feature that deletes and overwrites personal files.

If you feel like educating yourself more on how to avoid malware in the first place, the Federal Trade Commission offers consumer resources. Some quick links:

  • Avoiding, detecting, getting rid of and reporting malware
  • More on combating malware and spyware
  • All about phishing
  • Defending against ransomware
  • File a complaint: ftccomplaintassistant.gov

As for Sprint, the company does offer basic security for free to every customer.  Sprint recently began offering Lookout, a mobile security app, with three stages of protection. The basic service, which is free, includes anti-virus and malware protection.

“Lookout is the best method of protection against hackers – not just to protect mobile devices, but to protect all of their digital life,” said John Votava, a Sprint spokesman.

Premium versions of Lookout add backup and theft protection for $2.99 a month, or jump up to the Plus plan for $9.99 a month to get multiple devices covered and more. Details are at dpo.st/sprintsecurity.

If I have time, I’ll add security options for the other mobile phone service providers in the Monday newsletter. Don’t forget to subscribe at dpo.st/mailbag.

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