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The Data Left Behind on Old Devices

used devices

At some point, you will outgrow your PC or laptop. The big question is what should you do with the old device? Sell, give away, dispose or recycle? Used graphics cards are currently traded with high prices, and with hard drives, you can still make money. In order to reduce your risk of loss of personal data, hard drives should be deleted before being sold, but do sellers always do that?

Five Dozen Used Drives – what’s on them?

We wanted to know if hard drives being resold really do contain any data.  So, we purchased five dozen used drives from private sellers all over the world. Kroll Ontrack technicians examined whether there was any information on the internal storage media.  They were astonished to discover that this was the case for almost half of the drives. The findings contained highly sensitive personal information. One of the hard disks purchased came from a company and it was supposedly “deleted” by a service provider. The device was still readable for our specialists and it contained user names, private addresses, telephone numbers and credit card data. Additionally, specialists found information that included a staff list with about 100 names, related information on professional experience, position and telephone numbers.

Way Too Personal

Nearly a third of all the hard drives contained personal information, including personal photos, private documents, emails, videos, wedding photos, and audio and music files. In addition, registration data for Internet portals were found, including passwords, payroll accounts, credit card numbers, bank account information, investment details, and company tax returns.    The reasoning for this is simply negligence.  Cyber criminals could gain access to this private information and use it for identity theft or to make online purchases.  On May 25, 2018, The European Union will introduce a Data Protection Act called General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).  Every European company, along with companies elsewhere who conduct business with them, will need to address this issue in order to avoid an unlawful offense.

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