TSTC Cyber Security Program Advises Caution When Upgrading Mobile Phones

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Consumers need to keep personal security in mind when transitioning to new mobile phones.

Amy Hertel, an instructor in Texas State Technical College’s Cyber Security program in Marshall, said people need to know that information on their mobile phones does not disappear. She advised people not to sell their old phones themselves because stored information can be easily interpreted by tech-savvy people.

“Until it is overwritten, it is there,” Hertel said. “If you hook it up to a computer and have the right software, you can pull that stuff right off.”

Some people will switch mobile service providers and keep their phone number when they buy new phones and stay in the same geographical area. This practice is known as porting, according to the Federal Communications Commission. 

The FCC recommends using personal pin numbers or passwords for mobile phone accounts to prevent people from “porting out” phone numbers. Scammers who get hold of a combination of phone numbers and personal information can intercept calls and get access to bank accounts, social media accounts, emails and other information accessed through mobile phones.

Hertel said the subscriber identity module (SIM) card can be moved from old to new phones. But, she said information is not actually stored on SIM cards because information is sent to a cloud-based system.

One of the most important things to do is keep up with mobile phone software updates, Hertel said.

“They do have security fixes tied into them,” she said. “The quicker you get an update, the safer you will be.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.