Leave No Trace

How to Purge Personal Data from your IoT Device by WatchGuard Technologies. Consider for a moment all of the devices that you own that have some level of...

How to Purge Personal Data from your IoT Device by WatchGuard Technologies.

Consider for a moment all of the devices that you own that have some level of internet connectivity; your smartphone, tablet, laptop, games console, smart TV, desktop computer. The list goes on and this is standard for most homes. As long as your security systems are kept up to date, the risk of cyberattack remains low. But what about when we come to dispose of these devices? As technology advances, we are keen to replace outdated smartphones with the latest models; often recycling our old devices to charities or via online cashback programs, even handing them on to friends and family

So, how can you be sure that when you pass these devices on that they are purged of your personal data?

There are three key issues to address when wiping your devices clean of your digital fingerprint to ensure they are free of any personal information. Follow these steps each time you dispose of an IoT device to be confident that you don’t fall victim to a breach of your confidential data.

Wipe Data

The most basic of cleanses is to ensure that you erase all of the data on your IoT device. Most devices hold information within local storage or on a hard drive. Whilst many devices will allows you to erase this data using a simple one-step process, you should always do your research to ensure that the particular model you are purging is a secure and complete reset. Some devices allow you to ‘erase’ data but traces of which can be left allowing skilled cyber criminals to access. Be prepared to invest in additional security measures that allow you to securely remove all traces of your data.


All IoT devices share one thing irrespective of whether they are a smart toaster, a car with Wi-Fi or an eBook reader; they are all connected to the internet. As a result, each device will have stored settings that link to how you have connected it to your network. They may also include access points to cloud storage, social media logins and numerous other accounts including logins and password information. Every app you have used on a device may have stored personal information somewhere.

Deleting files is one stage of purging your data but ensure that you go one better and erase all device settings as well as deactivating any linked apps.

Get Your Head Out of the Clouds

Whilst the cloud offers great security it can also offer an opportunity to gain access to all manner of devices once connected to them. This level of security afforded to users who have their devices stolen or lost can offer a reverse access point to unscrupulous attackers. Always make sure that you have completely disconnected your device from all remote networks including your cloud. This may have to be done from the cloud itself rather than your device.

Once you have performed all of these purges, you should always perform some last minute checks to ensure that you have done all you can before disposing of your IoT device.

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