Top 5 Studies on Data Found on Resold Devices

After replacing business equipment, it’s common to consider selling it to recoup some of the initial cost. If you do this, are you taking precautions to protect your employees, your clients, and your own confidential information secure?

 To show just how concerning this is, an IT firm in Minnesota worked with Blancco Technology Group in a study of data security. Together, they purchased several hard drives off eBay in several countries. After analyzing the hard drives, personal data was found on almost half of them. This is just one of the top five studies regarding data that’s been found on resold electronic devices.

 #1 – Blancco Technology Group Study Regarding eBay Purchases

 In each case, the eBay sellers assured the buyer that steps had been taken to remove or destroy all data on the hard drive. Despite these assurances, the IT firm was able to recover personal information like photocopies of passports and birth certificates, business documents, financial documents, vehicle registrations, and student information.

 #2 – Rapid7 Discovered More than 360,000 Files in a $650 Purchase

 Rapid7 is a software company out of Boston. They spent $650 purchasing 85 refurbished electronic devices like laptops, memory cards, flash drives, and cellphones. Only 2 of the 85 devices had no recoverable data. The other 83 were packed with personal information like credit card numbers, passport information, driver’s license numbers, Social Security Numbers, dates of birth, and more.

 The frightening aspect of the Rapid7 investigation is that the company only ran a base search for information. They did not go into forensic-level searches. Had they, they are convinced they could have found far more data.

 #3 – University of Hertfordshire Memory Card Study

 Partnering with Comparitech, the University of Hertfordshire purchased 100 SD and micro SD cards from second-hand stores, eBay, and auction sites. Of those memory cards, they were able to retrieve materials like passport scans, pornographic images, email/phone lists, resumes, and more.

 To find this information, they used online programs that are readily available online. They didn’t have to work hard to recover the information on these cards. Of the 100 SD and micro SD cards, around 66 of them had personal information they were able to recover.

 #4 – California State University in Fresno’s Loss

 When thieves stole an external hard drive from the California State University in Fresno, officials realized that as many as 15,000 people could be affected. In this case, the college hadn’t used that hard drive in several years, but they just hadn’t gotten around to properly recycling it or destroying the data.

 When the hard drive went missing in 2018, it still had credit card numbers, SSNs, names, contact information, and driver’s license numbers. The file dates ranged from 2003 to 2014. No one is certain where the hard drive ended up after the theft, but the amount of information that could be passed on if the hard drive was resold was concerning.

 #5 – McAfee’s Identity Theft Specialist

 One of McAfee’s identity theft specialists purchased 30 electronic devices over the internet. He purchased a mix of laptops, tablets, phones, and desktops. He found personal information on more than half of those electronics.

 As he started running basic searches to see what he could recover, he came across pornographic images, tax documents, child support forms, password and username lists, and court papers. When he reached out to the sellers and showed them what he was able to recover, the majority believed they had completely erased their data.

 Data Destruction is the Best Way to Protect Personal Information

 It used to be the norm that strong magnets were used to erase information from hard drives that stored data in a magnetic format on a spinning drive. The introduction of Solid State Drives (SSDs) has changed that. Data is not stored in a magnetic format with SSDs, so magnets won’t work.

 To ensure data is destroyed on devices with SSDs, you must shred the hard drive. Shredding involves putting the hard drive through a machine that cuts it into small pieces that are then sorted into areas for metal, plastic, etc. Those components can be melted back down and reused to make new electronics.

 ERI Direct guarantees data destruction through both on-site and off-site methods. We’ll help you recycle your office electronics in the method that you prefer. You can track every step of the process through Optech™. You gain assurance as to where your recycled electronics are in the data destruction and recycling process. Call 1-800-ERI-DIRECT to discuss your company’s data destruction and electronics recycling needs.