In the News: Study Shows Recycled Computers Give Away Personal Information

A study commissioned in Australia by the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID), a non-profit, data protection watchdog agency, has found significant amounts of personal information left on recycled computers.

According to NAID CEO Bob Johnson ,” The study is rather simple. We randomly purchased 52 recycled computer hard drives from a range of publicly available sources, such as eBay. We then asked a highly reputable forensic investigator, Insight Intelligence Pty.Ltd, to determine whether confidential information was on those drives. The procedure used to find the information is intentionally very basic and did not require an unusually high degree of technical heroics. Had the data been properly erased, it could not have been found.”hard drive photo good

The result: private, sensitive information was found such as medical records, bank account holder’s personal information, confidential client correspondence and billing information – pointing to hard drives from businesses and medical facilities. Some of the hard drives pointed to being previously owned by individuals because they contained private images, videos and details of a highly personalized nature.

The study continued to note that where private information was found, there were some indications that someone had attempted to remove the information but failed to do so.

Mario Bekes, Insight Intelligence’s managing director warned that “businesses and individuals take a big risk by attempting to erase hard drives themselves. It is not a do-it-yourself project.” Bekes also encourages businesses and consumers to seek out a certified recycling company with technical expertise and who take data destruction seriously.

[Source: NAID-ANZ Secondhand Hard Drive Study]

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