Cloud

Three methods for erasing data securely from an iOS device

Need to re-issue, sell, or otherwise dispose of an iOS device? First, make sure you've securely wiped all the user data from it. Wil Limoges offers three ways to wipe your iPhone or iPad.

With the iPad 3 right around the corner, I’ve decided to give my iPad a clean wipe and find it a new home. I’m replacing my iPad, but in the enterprise there are several reasons that you may want to delete the data that is on an iOS device. I’m going to share with you the typical methods for deleting data from your devices as well as an application that will help you do it securely.

Restore

A typical restore is rather straightforward. Simply connect your iOS device to a computer that has iTunes installed. Once connected, iTunes should automatically open depending on your device settings within iTunes. If not, just open iTunes. Now that iTunes is open, select your iOS device from the Devices list in the left hand column. The iTunes window should now display your iOS devices summary page. On this page you can check for software updates as well as restore the device. Clicking Restore will initiate the process of erasing the device and installing a fresh OS.

Remote wipe

So what happens if your iOS device is stolen or misplaced? With the help of iCloud, which is completely free and can even create an account on a new iOS device as part of setup, we can both track and remotely wipe the device. Tracking any Mac or iOS device requires iCloud and requires you to log in to iCloud and access a web app called Find my iPhone. What’s great about Find my iPhone is not only can it locate your iPhone (or other registered Apple device) from the last location here it was turned on, but you can also send the device a message, and as a last-resort, remotely wipe the device. To remotely wipe your device, you must first have iCloud configured and have Find my iPhone enabled; then, log into your iCloud account and select Find my iPhone from the list of web apps. Once you’ve opened the app, you’ll see a list of devices that have Find my iPhone enabled from which you can select the device that you would like to erase. Once selected, your device will be first located, then you’ll have the option to view more details about the device. Click the i to view more information, and from this window you can remotely wipe the device.

iShredder

So what about when we need to ensure that sensitive data has been fully removed from the device? In both of the above cases, the data -- though no longer accessible from iOS -- may still reside on the drive. It is only being completely removed once new data has overwritten what existed before. There are several methods that can be used to make certain that the data has been securely deleted; however, most require jail breaking or more complex methods, which, like Apple, I don’t support nor would recommend. Instead I’m going to offer a simple and elegant solution for this. It’s an app called iShredder, available in the App Store for $4.99. ProtectStar, maker of iShredder, offers this app in a couple different flavors; however, even the standard version will offer more capabilities than what is offered through iTunes and iCloud. ProtectStar offers a great deal of information regarding its product and even has a very informative video on their website.

About

Wil Limoges is a Louisville, KY freelance web designer and Digital Savant at the vimarc group. He has had the pleasure of working for Apple as a Genius, loves science, and aspires to make great things!

4 comments

Editor's Picks