Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
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."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

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

Comments Filter:
  • Anecdote (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PPH ( 736903 ) on Thursday April 26, 2012 @07:11PM (#39814019)

    A few years back, I happened to visit my dentist's office just after he had all of his workstations upgraded. By the medical/dental s/w maintenance vendor's technician. While the tech was standing there, I asked my dentist what he was going to do with all his old PC's. Donate them to a local school, he said. I asked if there was any patient data on them. He told me that the vendor's tech had reformatted the hard drives, so that wouldn't be a problem. I asked him (within earshot of that tech) if he had ever heard of the 'unformat' command. I then suggested that he have the vendor investigate DBAN [] before letting these machines off the property.

    I don't know who is responsible for the loss of patent data under HIPAA [] regulations. But I'd hope that vendors specializing in medical IT support would.

  • Only? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Internetuser1248 ( 1787630 ) on Thursday April 26, 2012 @08:08PM (#39814687)
    Every 2nd hand hard disk I have ever acquired has had personal data on it. None of the previous owners had even attempted to delete the data all the filesystem pointers were intact. On the other hand none of them ever had any useful data on them, unless I wanted to embarrass the previous owner by sending their porn collection to their wife/parents.
  • Re:Whoopdie-doo (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <> on Thursday April 26, 2012 @10:53PM (#39816441) Journal

    Well I can only answer that with an anecdote, but from a friend that worked for awhile at a GS to get some extra cash the answer to that question would depend on this there any porn on the drives? MP3? Movies? how about pics of your GF? because he said that roughly half the guys he worked with had USB HDDs that had batch files that looked for anything they might want to snatch, which would explain why you always here of the CP guys getting busted by GS, they trip over the files looking for stuff to snatch.

    While I haven't done this personally, in fact i pride myself on not knowing a damned thing about what is on a customer's PC as i don't snoop I just do my job, I can say i have seen this behavior at other shops in the past I even had a creepy coworker that used to brag about how large his MP3 and porn video collection was because he snatched any chance he got. Just one more reason to ask around and find out the rep of the shop you are going to AND to use encryption, hell even something as simple as a password protected zip or rar file would block most of these guys because they are looking for easy targets.

    Personally after seeing that the transfer went fine I ask what the customer wants done with the drive and if they don't want it it gets boot and nuked and stuff in the spare drawer and since I keep an old machine in the corner just for that job it isn't a hardship. Many of the newer minitowers can't hold but a single drive at a time so I often end up with a pile of 80Gb-300Gb drives that i then use on refurbed machines for the poor, but it really creeps me out to think there are guys snooping around people's computers just looking for stuff to snatch, its too much like going through someone's underwear drawer...yuck.

"We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company."