How to beat 22 Web security threats

Forewarned is forearmed. We investigate the latest and most deadly tech dangers, and explain how to fight back.

10. Mobile-phone data loss

We've all had a laugh at the government and its accident-prone minions managing to lose sensitive data, whether by leaving laptops in the back of taxis, losing disks or other astoundingly dumb mistakes. But you'd be surprised - alarmed, even - by the number of businesses and individuals that run similar risks by getting rid of gadgets without bothering to wipe the data.

That old mobile phone may not contain complex financial spreadsheets, but the email addresses, phone numbers and call records stored on it can all be misused.

Resetting a smartphone to its factory-default state takes five minutes, but many people fail to take this simple precaution when a handset reaches the end of its life.

used phone could end up anywhere, yet many sellers just box it up and hand it over.

The fix

Before ditching an old mobile phone, use its reset codes or menu options to clear its message archives and contacts list. Click here to learn how to reset your phone and follow the instructions.

11. Document secrecy I: hidden text

Some people cover sensitive information in documents with black bars. That's effective for a paper report, but not for digital documents. For example, anyone armed with the full version of Adobe Acrobat can remove a black bar painted over text in a PDF file.

The fix

For Word documents, simply save a new copy of the file that you plan to censor. Turn off Revisions Mode, then type text over the text you need to hide.

For PDF files, use a plug-in such as Redax (around £177). Alternatively, cover the text in the PDF file with black bars, convert the PDF to a Tiff image, then reconvert the Tiff to a PDF. The down side of PDFs converted in this way is that readers lose the ability to search text.

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