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Half of us have old phones STUFFED in our drawers

Other half are presumably just glad to see you

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

Fifty-five per cent of Brits have an old handset or two lying about the place, as despite the charities happy to recycle them we're surprisingly reluctant to let them go.

Quite why we won't give up our old hardware isn't clear, but figures from Comscore put more than 28 million of them knocking around with more than 12 per cent of us hoarding at least four handsets each. Mobile security outfit Lookout asked 1,900 people why, and found a quarter don't know what else to do, one in 10 wants access to their old apps, and another quarter are worried about their data turning up elsewhere.

Lookout can help with the last lot, obviously, but the others present a problem. Modern smartphone platforms support the idea of app mobility - the user buys the apps and then runs on them on whatever hardware they happen to have handy - but that's quite a recent innovation so not everyone's Snake high score is going to transfer that easily.

There's little to be done for those who don't know what to do with old phones, as charities and businesses both advertise heavily and most mobile shops will take handsets to be passed on to a suitable charity. Such handsets usually end up in the developing world, where a mobile can be a (literal) lifeline, and few of them are thrown away.

Those with children can pass them on generationally, which has the added advantage of destroying them utterly in good time, though the potential risk of data exposure is much greater (having one's children find that video is worse than it turning up in a Nairobi village, though as both are connected to YouTube it's not that different).

Handsets which have been properly reset rarely give up data to a cursory glance, though forensic expects equipped with the right software can extract some files beyond then depending on the platform (short version: BlackBerry = no, everything else = yes), but it’s the uncertainty which seems to put people off.

Sitting in a draw is probably better than being in landfill - things in draws are unlikely to leak toxic chemicals into the environment. But letting someone else use them is preferable and there might be a few quid in it too (for the owner, or a charity), which has got to be a good thing. ®

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