By Christiane Cordero

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Virtually every year, companies like Apple and Samsung tempt us to upgrade our smartphones, but the fate of your old device has cybersecurity pros concerned.

WCCO’s Christiane Cordero spoke with a tech expert who explained why simply deleting your data isn’t enough.

Now that you have the latest and greatest top-of-the-line gadget, your old devices are – where are they, anyway?

Recycling or reselling are options, but before you hand it off, experts urge you scrub it clean.

Mike Satter clears devices for several media companies, including CBS. He says sensitive financial statements, health records, information on your kids are valuable to you and to hackers.

“Anything that you believe as an individual you want to protect, that’s what we’re talking about. And it can really change someone’s life,” Satter said.

So, simple fix, right?

“Just delete everything. Delete all,” Tyler Elliott said.

Not enough, according to Satter, because the data itself can be found deep in your hard drive.

“And that could be something that could compromise either you and I, our families or our businesses,” Satter said.

You can do a factory reset on your device itself, which brings it back to the settings before you bought it.

“And I’d assume that means all the data’s gone, but I guess I don’t really know,” said Ellen Krumholz.

Satter says a factory reset is a good option for most people, but he says if it ends up in the wrong hands, a sophisticated hacker could still find the information they’re looking for.

So, a better option is to use third-party software that shows you, in real time, what it’s scrubbing and when it’s done.

“Really what that’s telling you is, ‘I am safe now. I am clear. Now I can do whatever I want with this.’ If you want to keep it, great. If you want to give it to your son, your daughter, if you want to sell it, no problem,” Satter said.

Satter recommends a few different software options to erase your information. ProtectStar Data Shredder and Wise Care 365 are both brands he knows and trusts. WipeOS is another option, one with which he’s affiliated and uses on our systems here at CBS.

Those programs cost between $20-30.

Christiane Cordero

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