Personal, financial and commercially sensitive data is routinely left on used hard discs, which are sold without being properly wiped, research has shown.
More than seven in 10 used but functional hard discs bought on eBay and examined for the study, by Berlin-based hard disk utilities firm O&O software, still had valuable and easily recoverable data on them.
This year’s figure of 71.5% represents a small improvement on a similar survey last year, when 88% of discs were found to contain data – but disk sizes have increased substantially. The researchers reconstructed more than 3.3 million files and found 50 e-mail mailboxes, complete with the previous users’ e-mails.
The research report warns, “The results in 2004 were alarming. In 2005, the results show a small improvement.
“However, even when the percentage of recoverable data on the tested hard diskcs has fallen, the ‘quality’ of recovered data has improved dramatically.”
“One of the most dramatic findings of this year's study was a hard disc apparently from a federal governmental body in
“Also found was a hard disc once belonging to a prominent German bank that contained information regarding the credit ratings of other banks.”