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iPhone 2.0: Secure Erase

Remember when AT&T was selling refurbished iPhone 2G's at (what was then) ridiculously low prices? Remember how it turned out some of those units still contained the personal information of their previous owners? Apple seems to remember, and has reportedly taken steps to prevent it from happening again.

As with a computer, when you simply delete a file, the file typically remains but is marked as deleted by the file system and will eventually be over-written. To delete something and make sure it's deleted, you need to over-write it, and not just with a single binary bit (zero'ing out). You have to over-write it with (pseudo) random data, and over-write several times.

Apple does something like this on the desktop with "Secure Empty Trash", and now they're bringing the same concept to the iPhone. The catch? Time. The new dialog for "Erase iPhone" now warns that "This will take about an hour."

And let's face it: what's a little time if it prevents that eBay buyer from getting all your personal details, right?

Check the read link for the Settings screen shots...

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Rene Ritchie
Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

4 Comments
  • I do sort of wish there were an option to NOT erase securely -- sometimes you just need a factory reset and being forced to wait an hour for it sounds ...onerous.
  • I figure they will separate out a reset, restore, and secure erase. It doesn't make sense to have that as part of the simple restore procedure, and would waste flash memory cycles (which don't have unlimited lifespans, especially under the pressure of full, multi-pass data writes where the fancier upper lays can balance out the bits being hit).
  • Are there any details on the "remote wipe" function? I gather from what I have read that only Exchange administrators can execute this function, but I would like the reassurance of knowing that if I lose my phone it could be wiped.
  • Remote wipe is a part of Exchange. I haven't seen anything that hints at us personal users getting it, not even through MobileMe.