If you are thinking of getting rid of your old hard drives or computers, beware. Please securely clear out all personal information and double check if they are scrubbed clean of any sensitive data permanently.
A recent study conducted by the Blancco Technology Group revealed that a majority of used hard drives sold through eBay and Craigslist still contain recoverable data in them.
The security firm purchased 200 used hard disks from the two shopping sites in first quarter of 2016 to prove that the inadequate removal of data on used electronics is a widespread issue. Their findings show that 67 percent of the drives still hold personally identifiable data, such as photos, documents, and sensitive financial data, while 11 percent of the drives have confidential company information. This includes social security numbers, resumes, company spreadsheets with sales projections, customer relationship management records, company emails and product inventories.
On 36 percent of the drives, there was an attempt to delete the files but the data still remained in the Recycle Bin, where it could easily be recovered.
Only 10 percent of the drives have all the data wiped completely and permanently via secure processes.
These are stunningly high numbers and it is a dangerous practice since the data recovered could be used in identity thefts, business email compromise scams or data breaches.
The security firm stated "that firms failing to wipe drives clean before they are resold, repurposed or recycled can cause irreparable damage to customer loyalty, brand reputation and sales, both near-term and long-term."
To securely wipe a drive clean of data, hitting the delete button or dragging the files to the Recycling Bin or Trash will not do the trick. Even emptying the Recycle Bin/Trash is not enough since simple data forensics software could still extract this data if desired.
One way to make data unrecoverable or at least make it difficult to extract is by using software like Full Wipe. Full Wipe will fill and overwrite your drive with random bits of data making it unrecoverable. Obviously, this should be used with caution.
If you are wondering when you should wipe, shred, delete, erase or reset, check out our guide on what these different terms do.