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Government Security Hardware

Study Finds 1 in 10 Used Hard Drives Contains Old Personal Data 111

Lucas123 writes "A newly published study by Britain's data protection regulatory agency found that more than one in 10 second-hand hard drives being sold online contain recoverable personal information from the original owner. "Many people will presume that pressing the delete button on a computer file means that it is gone forever. However this information can easily be recovered," Britain's Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, said in a statement. In all, the research found 34,000 files containing personal or corporate information were recovered from the devices. Along with the study, a survey revealed that 65% of people hand down their old PC, laptop and cell phones to others. One in ten of those people who disposed of their old devices, left all their data on them. The British government also offered new guidelines for ensuring devices are properly wiped of data."
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Study Finds 1 in 10 Used Hard Drives Contains Old Personal Data

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  • Whoopdie-doo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Thursday April 26, 2012 @06:59PM (#39813851)
    Who is going to bother with a time-consuming forensic-analysis style attack with a 10% chance of success when you can break into some company and get thousands of credit card numbers and/or SSNs? Sheesh, if you want credit card numbers, just get a job at any restaurant as a waiter.
  • Re:Whoopdie-doo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by YodasEvilTwin ( 2014446 ) on Thursday April 26, 2012 @07:02PM (#39813899) Homepage
    This figure actually seems extremely low. 90% of people know how to properly wipe their drives? Yeah right. And there's essential 0 risk in stealing data off a drive you legitimately own or find in the garbage -- not so for screwing around at work.
  • Only 1 in 10? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hahn ( 101816 ) on Thursday April 26, 2012 @07:12PM (#39814037) Homepage
    I would venture to guess that most people don't realize that deleting a file doesn't completely wipe it. The bigger question is, how many people who buy or receive those second hand-drives are looking to recover the data, and what % of them would do something with it that would NOT be okay with the original owner. I'd like to think not that many. But then again, I wouldn't be surprised if there were scammers who look to buy cheap used drives to see if they can dig up some useful info on it. Seems to me that would be higher yield than trying to phish for it with spam, and easier than trying hack websites.
  • Re:Whoopdie-doo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday April 26, 2012 @10:30PM (#39816217) Journal

    Or just keep an eye out by the dumpsters. You'd be amazed how many time companies would just sit computers out without even bothering to wipe squat. I've gotten to be friends with the handyman for my apt building and since he works also at some of the city buildings as well as a few businesses and he picks up any machines they are tossing because he knows i refurb PCs for poor folks and it just blows my mind how many times I've found CC numbers, tax forms, you name it on these machines.

    Hell he called me once to bring out my truck because one of the local telecos were tossing their old towers when they upgraded. i got nearly 40 towers with nothing but the windows password between me and ALL their data. Of course being an honest man I simply nuked the drives and did clean installs but if I'd have been a bad guy the amount of data I'd have would have been insane. So think about that when you are giving your data to some company, you never know if they just sit their old machines on a curb somewhere.

    But I have yet to see anyone recover data from a 3 pass DoD (sure a single zero out will do it, but I've found more companies will hand me machines if I tell them i'll DoD the machine) so please don't go for that insane "hey we'll shoot the drive!" kinda crap as there are a LOT of poor folks hurting in this economy and those old PCs can really help folks. So please just wipe and freecycle, its better for the environment and better for the poor folks around you.

If it's not in the computer, it doesn't exist.