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Formatting An iPhone To Wipe Data

By Rich

It appears people are recovering data off old iPhones. Whoops- looks like you can pull data out of memory using forensics tools, just like any other platform. While your Mac includes the ability to overwrite old data when formatting your hard drive to prevent recovery (very cool that this is included in a consumer operating system), there is no equivalent mechanism to clear off that “ancient” original iPhone when you trade up to the 3G version next month.

For those of you who aren’t just convincing your spousees to take your “old” iPhone off your hands to justify that new toy, Securosis presents a simple process to minimize the chances of recovery. It’s not perfect, but it’s easy and should offer enough protection for those of you forced to eBay your once-precious-but-now-obsolete device:

  1. Restore the iPhone from within iTunes.
  2. On the “Info” tab, un-check all options so you don’t synchronize calendars, email, bookmarks, and contacts.
  3. On the Photos, Podcasts, and Video tabs, uncheck “Sync …”.
  4. Create 3 big playlists at large as the storage capacity of your iPhone.
  5. On the Music tab, select the first of your 3 playlists to sync. Make sure the storage bar at the bottom looks full after syncing.
  6. Sync your iPhone, change to the next playlist, sync again, and repeat one last time.

This will hopefully overwrite any of the free space on your phone, helping prevent recovery of any of those love letters and bad jokes lingering from old emails. I won’t have a chance to test this anytime soon, and odds are high some fragments will survive depending on how the iPhone allocates at the file system level, but this should be more than sufficient to prevent casual recovery of sensitive stuff if you’d like to hock your “old” phone.

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Comments

thats great idea. thanks a lot…

By iphone oyunlari


How do you wipe info off of a non-working iphone that was dropped in water? Before I offer the phone up for sale as a non-working unit, I want to ensure all data was erased.

By Kyle D


Just try SecureWipe:

http://itunes.apple.com/de/app/securewipe/id381341663?mt=8

It automatically overwrites all free space with random data making it impossible to restore data.

By Sven K


I’m not trying to be rude, but this is a terrible and unsound way of wiping an iphone.  It’s clear that you do not understand much about computer forensics.

By aaaaa


i am formatting my apple with apple settings (1) i am reset my iphone from reset setting     (2)and then he is holding on apple arrow he coud not start tellme what can i do

By jai


Thanks a lot for this tutorial.

By Zoran


[...] http://securosis.com/2008/05/20/formatting-an-iphone-to-wipe-data/  May 16, 2008: Refurbished iPhone Reveals Customer Data A few days ago, I posted a discovery in that personal data remains intact (in deleted portions of the file system) following a full iPhone restore. As it turns out, Apple may not have been aware of this privacy leak either. Thank goodness, or identity theft might actually be, like, hard. A detective from the Oregon State Police, whom I’ve verified, notified me this afternoon that an out-of-the-box refurbished iPhone he purchased contained recoverable personal data including email, personal photos, and even financial information which he was able to recover using my forensic toolkit. The photos he sent me included the individual’s name, which I’ve blurred out myself, but if you’ve ever had to return a defective iPhone, you might recognize this inbox. The more sensitive information hasn’t been posted here for obvious reasons. [...]

By Refurbished iPhones are an excellent source of pre


[...] Rich Mogull’s (securosis.com) method: http://securosis.com/2008/05/20/formatting-an-iphone-to-wipe-data/Which is an easy to do 2 restores and 3 overwrites of the iPhone device’s user data area. Look [...]

By MySecured.com · Wipe the iPhone - Methods R


all this discussion is wrong…

so there are two partitions. use df to get
root# df
Filesystem       1K-blocks     Used Available Use% Mounted on
/dev/disk0s1         307200   172700   131428 57% /
devfs               18     18       0 100% /dev
/dev/disk0s2       3657400   708020   2949380 20% /private/var

so apps are on \ , data is on \private\var
mail and sms and notes sit on \private\var, see http://forums.iphonehacks.com/showthread.php?p=261

after erasing my email accounts, the mail files were still there.. so overwriting the empty spaces won’‘t help - you first have to manually remove the emails. same with sms, notes, everything else.
/private/var/mobile/Library/Mail/Envelope Index

By rabbit


After i restore it then the Set up iphone screen comes up and says set up iphone if i set it up arent i at square 1 again?

By Alex


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