Just in case you might think that data theft is something that happens to a few hapless individuals who are lax with their Social Security number read this.
The latest results in a five-years-running study might prompt some to review data destruction policies. University researchers in the U.K., Australia, and the U.S. purchased 300 drives from eBay and other retailers, finding that 34 percent of disk drives still contained confidential data. Banking details, blueprints, patient records, employee data, embassy logs and details on a ground-to-air missile defense system were among the data left behind. Study leads at the University of Glamorgan in Wales say that over the past five years the volume of drives containing sensitive data has fallen, but the volume of data exposed has increased.
In my efforts to assist businesses with their identity theft prevention programs one of the areas that we try to cover is the disposal of hard drives. This article illustrates how important this is. Whenever replacing drives or exchanging computers make certain that drives are disabled. The sure fire way to do that is to break the disk or drive a nail through it. Under certain circumstances the data on a wiped disk drive can be recovered. Flash (solid state) drives should be physically destroyed when they are taken from service.
Another issue in the workplace is photocopiers. A copy machine can store thousands of documents in its memory. Since most businesses lease commercial copiers it is essential that the machines' drives be wiped clean before returning it to the supplier. The service technician for the leasing company knows how to format the copier drives, and should do that prior to removing the machine from the clients' office.