At Recytech we receive hundreds of old IT assets every week and one of our jobs is to ensure that each computer is ‘clean’ and has no corporate or personal data remaining. We know many companies that offer erasure software but at Recytech we only use Blancco Technology as we consider it one of the best on the market.
Blancco are always interested in what is going on in the marketplace and in the first quarter of 2016 they conducted a study in the United States to see if residual personal and corporate data could be recovered from used electronics bought off the internet. The study purchased 200 used hard disk drives and solid state drives from eBay and Craigslist. All second-hand drives were randomly selected and purchased based on availability.
The results are astonishing…..
Out of the 200 used drives Blancco digital forensics experts were able to recover residual data from over three-fourths (78 percent) of the drives.
This finding on its own is worrisome, but when you consider that the leftover data includes both corporate data (11%) and personally identifiable information (67%), it is clear that certain areas of data security, such as data removal, need to be revisited.
Of the corporate information they found 9% were company emails, followed by spreadsheets containing sensitive company information including sales projections and product inventories (5 percent) and CRM records (1 percent).
Over half (67 percent) of the used drives they examined contained personally identifiable information. In addition to finding photos (43 percent) and photos with GPS data (24 percent), their digital forensics experts discovered extremely sensitive information, including financial data (21 percent), social security numbers (23 percent) and resumes (10 percent).
So when does delete mean delete?
Based on Blancco’s analysis 36% of the drives containing residual data had data previously ‘deleted’ from them – essentially, users dragged files to the ‘Recycle Bin’ or used the basic delete button. Unfortunately, some users do not understand the difference between ‘delete’ and erase. If a person or business use this deletion method then the data they think is deleted can be accessed and recovered.
Because of how important this subject is – and how little awareness and knowledge there is on the topic – Blancco have outlined below the differences between insecure deletion and permanent removal.
The moral of this study is clear – be careful who you give your old computers to and ensure that whoever handles your used IT assets will securely and professionally remove your data. If in doubt, ask for a certificate of erasure. Otherwise you never know where your computers or parts containing sensitive data could end up.
Recytech offer a data erasure service and we would be more than happy to help. Please call us on 0800 732 983 for more information.