Secondhand devices put children at risk, claims global cybersecurity firm

A global cybersecurity firm is warning that children’s phones may not be purchased from wholly secure sources.

ESET’s claim follows research indicating that 50% of UK parents bought a new phone for their offspring at Christmas, with more expected to follow in the January sales.

After surveying 1,000 UK mothers and fathers with children aged 10-18, ESET discovered that 39% of parents buying their kids a phone for Christmas were not using an official seller.

Ten per cent of respondents planned to buy secondhand from friends or family, while 7% intended to buy “refurbished“ phones. Even if reset by professionals, warns ESET, such devices may still contain trojans or malware.

The best way to protect your family is by installing mobile security and antivirus software on any new devices
 – ESET cyber security specialist, Jake Moore

“Parents need to be careful about where they’re buying tech such as phones and tablets,” said ESET cyber security specialist, Jake Moore. “With so much personal information held on these devices, it is critical that parents get them from a trusted source, and that any secondhand or refurbished models are completely wiped before being passed on or purchased.

“The best way to protect your family from these dangers is by installing mobile security and antivirus software on any new devices to add an extra layer of protection.”

ESET’s research also found that, despite more than half of parents having experienced a phishing attack, only 37% were aware of any security or virus protection on their child’s phone.


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The firm offers the following guidelines for anyone looking to buy a second-hand phone or give away an old one:

  • Back up data on the old phone to a computer or the cloud and sign out of all services – iTunes, App Store, Google Store, etc – before erasing the data
  • For iPhones, go to Settings > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings
  • For Android, consider encrypting data on the phone before doing a factory data reset
  • Be environmentally responsible when disposing of an old device by looking for designated electronics recycling plants

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