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(Pocket-lint) - The old factory reset option in Android phones appears to be less secure than it appears. A software company has shown just how insecure this method is after recovering information from phones it bought second-hand on eBay.

The study was carried out by Avast Software to show just how easily personal data could be found on factory reset phones. From the 20 phones they bought they were able to retrieve 40,000 stored photos, 750 emails, 250 contact names and email addresses, 1,000 Google searches, one completed loan application and four of the previous owner's identities.

Google has responded to the findings by saying, "This research looks to be based on old devices and versions (pre-Android 3.0) and does not reflect the security protections in Android versions that are used by the vast majority of users."

It went on to offer advice. "If you sell or dispose of your device, we recommend you enable encryption on your device and apply a factory reset beforehand; this has been available on Android for over three years."

Why you need LastPass to secure your digital life

This encryption option is found in the settings menu on Android devices. Go into the the security section and select the "Encrypt device" option. This will ask for a password which will be needed if anyone else wants to access the data on that device. Once this is done then you can go into settings and select "Factory reset" to wipe the phone back to it's original settings.

Pocket-lintfactory resetting a phone isn’t enough here s how to stop your data being recovered after selling image 2

READ: Guess how much money your personal data is worth? A study has finally found out

Writing by Luke Edwards.