Firms failing to erase confidential data from recycled PCs

Companies are putting their secrets at risk if they fail to completely overwrite hard discs that have reached the end of their useful lives, according to professional computer recyclers.

Companies are putting their secrets at risk if they fail to completely overwrite hard discs that have reached the end of their useful lives, according to professional computer recyclers.

IT departments may be forced to review how they dispose of unwanted hard drives after a BBC investigation showed that confidential data is being extracted from some UK hard drives that are shipped overseas for recycling and disposal.

In the course of its investigation, the BBC said it found “home addresses, bank account numbers, sort codes, passwords, e-mails that had been sent and highly confidential information relating to people’s businesses.”

But computer recycling charities Computer Aid International and Digital Links International both said they work with professionals to wipe hard discs as part of their refurbishment process.

Tony Roberts, CEO of Computer Aid International, said, “UK businesses and organisations, as well as the general public, should be reassured that there is a safe way of recycling redundant PCs guaranteeing that information is deleted for good and does not fall into the hands of criminals.”

Specialist hard drive overwriting company Blancco said PC manufacturers equipped computers with four types of technology – device-configuration overlay, jumper settings, host-protected areas and RAID – that made it difficult for individual users to deploy software to overwrite drives.

 

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