ICO warns that all sorts of information can be found on second hand devices, enough to faciliate identity theft.

One-in-ten second hand hard drives still has personal information

The government’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has revealed that 11 per cent of second hand hard drives contained personal data that hadn’t been erased.

The ICO commissioned computer forensics company the NCC Group to obtain a number of hard drives, memory sticks and mobile phones. The memory sticks and phones didn’t turn up much but second hand hard drives made for uncomfortable findings.

34,000 files were recovered including documents such as scanned bank statements, passports, information on previous driving offences and medical details. As a result of the study, ICO contacted four organisations to ensure that future equipment would be fully erased before sale.

“We live in a world where personal and company information is a highly valuable commodity. It is important that people do everything they can to stop their details from falling into the wrong hands," said Information Commissioner Christopher Graham.

The ICO issued guidance for individuals on how to securely delete information from old devices.

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