Data Destruction: Not a DIY Project
We came across an interesting summary of NAID-ANZ’s Secondhand Hard Drive Study by Digital Journal. Their article explains that the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID) conducted a study in Australia in which they purchased 52 random hard drives from a variety of public sources, such as eBay. NAID then gave the hard drives to third-party forensic investigator Insight Intelligence to determine whether the purchased drives contained confidential information.
Approximately 30% (15 of the 52) of the purchased drives did, in fact, contain highly confidential information. Eight of the drives were recycled by businesses and continued to hold sensitive medical information, account holder’s personal information, and confidential correspondence. The other seven drives were recycled by individuals and held highly personal information and images. Perhaps the most worrisome aspect is that some of these drives had undergone attempts at data removal.
Also, where personal information was found, there were indications that someone had attempted to remove the information but failed to effectively do so. Mario Bekes, Insight Intelligence’s managing director, said proper removal of data from computer hard drives requires more than just pressing the delete button.
“Even if they try to do it properly, private individuals and businesses take a big risk by attempting to erase hard drives themselves,” said Bekes. “It is not really a do-it-yourself project.”
Bekes also encourages consumers and businesses to be careful when selecting a recycling service.
“It’s a noble idea to recycle a computer, tablet or smartphone,” said Bekes. “But it’s important to know the recycling company has the proper technical expertise and takes data destruction seriously. Unfortunately, many recyclers treat data removal rather casually.”