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How to Make Sure Second Hand Tech Is Secure

Second Hand Security 

Buying used has pros and cons, especially when buying modern tech. Like-new or lightly used gadget are often available at online stores or through a classified ad. Sometimes people buy a device and realize too late it's not what they wanted, or that they don't actually use it as often as they thought they would.

One of the biggest benefits to buying used is that the cost is much less than if you buy new. A new smartphone - depending on the brand - will cost an average of $400 to $600 brand new, while a used phone's price tag will be half that or less.

Of course, that also means that - at least in most cases - the device won't come with a warranty which means you'll need to fix any defects or problems you encounter on your own. You may need to replace the device completely in the event of a failure. Since you're talking about a $300 gadget, that's a big risk to take.

The biggest risk, however, comes to light when you consider the personal data and information stored on said device: You may get your hands on a device that is not secure because the previous owner tampered with it.

How to Ensure Security

One the best ways to ensure your second-hand tech is secure - and works properly or is free of most defects - is to purchase from an authorized reseller.

Authorized resellers initially buy in bulk from a manufacturer whom they've entered a contractual agreement with. In addition, many of them will purchase or collect secondhand goods to be refurbished and sold again.

The reason why it's a better idea to buy from a certified or authorized reseller is because they generally have first-hand knowledge of the device(s) in question. They often have access to the same parts and design practices that the original manufacturer does, and so when they refurbish a device it comes off the production line like new. The benefit? Many resellers offer warranties or fair insurance policies for refurbished goods they sell.

However, finding authorized resellers who are associated with name brand companies can sometimes be difficult. Manufacturers will often list preferred resellers on an official website or news channel. In other cases, it doesn't hurt to contact customer support for the brand in question to ensure a potential venue is a suitable provider of said products.

Refurbished and Reconditioned Mean Different Things

Make sure you understand the difference between a refurbished item and a reconditioned one. A reconditioned item is one that has been in use by someone else and has been fixed up to be sold again - usually by a third party. When it comes to reconditioned items, any warranties that are being offered are usually honored by the company selling the device and not the original manufacturer.

Refurbished items, on the other hand, haven't necessarily been in use by someone else: They've been sent back to the manufacturer to be repaired or fixed. The reason can range from a cosmetic issue to a hardware failure or minor defect. Of course, it can be for major damage too, but the important thing to note is that the device is sent back to the original manufacturer to be fixed. That's exactly why it's more beneficial to purchase from an authorized reseller as opposed to a third party.

Always Factory Reset

As soon as you get your second-hand device - be it a computer, smartphone, tablet or otherwise - a factory reset should be your first move. With a smartphone or tablet, this will revert the device to its original state, as if it had just been taken out of the box. The same holds true for a computer, though you may need certain software to finish the task.

This ensures that any extra apps or software installed on the system - which don't come stock - have been removed.

Enable Storage and Data Encryption

All major devices offer some form of data encryption for personal files and media. You'll need to refer to the manufacturer instructions for the particular device you own if you don't know how to enable this feature, but you definitely should.

In short, data encryption ensures that all content stored on the device - especially sensitive information - is protected by a secure encryption key. Without that key, other parties and devices cannot access the encoded data. Encryption as a whole is a bit more involved than that - if you'd like to know more, be sure to read some guides on the technology.

Provided you follow most of the suggestions here, you shouldn't have any problems with your second-hand tech!


Kayla Matthews is a tech-loving blogger who writes and edits Follow her on Twitter to read all of her latest posts! 
** Image by Marcin Milewski
Published Wednesday, January 13, 2016 9:00 AM by David Marshall
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