IT Life

Study: Lots Of Private Data Found On Used Hard Disks

O&O Software says a sample of 100 used drives purchased on eBay shows only 10% had been wiped with software products; the rest contained private data.
Previously-owned hard disks are a prime source of patient records and other supposedly private information that falls under regulatory protection, according to a study commissioned by O&O Software.

The study by the Berlin, Germany, company, called "Data, Data Everywhere," sampled 100 used hard disks and other data carriers that were purchased on eBay. The results showed that only 10% of the hard disks had been properly wiped with the help of software products. The rest contained private data, including scanned signatures and ID cards, legal powers of attorney, account access information, and PIN and access codes.

In one case, complete patient data and correspondence were found on a hard disks that had once belonged to a health insurance company, according to O&O. Some hard disks that had obviously been used in companies turned up sensitive company data such as reports on turnover and market share, strategy papers, and business

Analysis of the study also points out that 75% of users are unaware that old data on hard disks can be restored with widely available software products.