A data-security company claims that up to 42% of used hard-drives sold on eBay still have important data on them
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Blancco, which describes itself as providing a "data erasure and mobile device diagnostic" standard, claims to have conducted a study on used hard drives that are sold online, and the measures taken to ensure they are clean of sensitive data on shipping.
To do this, the company reported buying 159 of these components (66% of which were SSDs) on the world's biggest online selling site, eBay, across 4 different countries (the US, the UK, Germany and Finland). This resulted in findings that about 3 in every 20 of these drives - or about 15% - had personally identifiable information on them. 42% of the second-hand items in total still held potentially dangerous information.
Blancco asserted that examples of the data that could be read on these drives included data on the students of a certain school, photos included; university papers with corresponding email addresses; scans of personal IDs and financial records; and a music store's corporate data (with, again, the photos to match).
However, the company did not specify if the drives with recoverable data were HDDs or not. The report stated that every one of the sellers in question declared that they had taken the measures necessary (from their perspective, at least: they used basic OS-level formats) to wipe their drives prior to their sale. By contrast, the sponsoring company was able to wipe the drives used in this study completely using its proprietary software.
Clearly, those individuals could have done more before selling their old electronics, however. This report may highlight the importance of data security when trading in second-hand devices online. There are also those who remain unconvinced by data-erasure procedures that are available today (e.g. the inbuilt ATA Secure Erase option found in most SSDs); however, alternatively, the world remains replete in hammers and acid.