… and thank you for your mobile data!

Do you recall our Bulletin articles “Smartphone lost - Privacy gone” and “Your privacy is paramount”? In an interesting twist, we recently learned of a senior CERN staff member who returned his old smartphone to the CERN Telecom Service in exchange for a new phone. Guess what came with it? All his e-mails and plenty of personal data. Privacy, anyone?


Indeed, today’s smartphones clone your personality into the digital world. Like a personal digital butler, it stores all the e-mails and messages between you and your family, friends, peers and colleagues; it contains photos and videos of the top moments of your life; and it holds your favourite music, movies and zillions of other bits of personal information stored in the apps of your choice (like GPS information on your jogging routes, a vault of your passwords, access to your Facebook or Twitter profiles, bank access information, and flight and hotel bookings). Your phone might also be used for making payments in shops.

But what about when your phone becomes obsolete? Physical destruction is of course the most obvious choice (and we encourage you to have a look at the CERN Data Destruction Policy). But still, “obsolete” for you does not mean “worthless” for someone else. Thus, you might wish to pass it on to a colleague or to the CERN Telecom Service. If it is your personal smartphone, you might give it to your family or friends or sell it on eBay. But before you do, think twice!

Remember to wipe your phone beforehand! Reset it to the factory settings, and remove its SIM card. The CERN Telecom Service provides details on how to do this with all major CERN phone brands. Also note that there is a possibility to wipe your mobile phone remotely if it gets lost or stolen. It’s even better if you always protect your smartphone against unauthorised access by locking it with a PIN code or swiping pattern. And while you're at it: what about your laptop(s)?

For further information, please check our web site or contact us at Computer.Security@cern.ch.

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by Computer Security Team