These devices are often disposed of or sold into the second-hand market by corporations, organizations, and individuals with the data intact. The report's authors say that this data represents a significant level of risk for commercial sabotage, identity theft, and even political compromise, and suggest that better education is essential to reduce the risk of harm.
It is not well known among computer users that simply deleting a file from the hard disk does not actually remove it from the computer but simply deletes its entry in the index for the hard drive. To remove all traces of a file requires the actual data to be wiped using "digital shredding" software. Such software is readily available and should be run as a high priority by individuals, companies and organizations intending to pass on their legacy computer hardware to third parties.
Andrew Jones, Head of Information Security Research, at British Telecommunications, in Martlesham Heath, UK, working with Glenn Dardick of Longwood University, in Farmville, Virginia, and colleagues Craig Valli, of Edith Cowan University, Western Australia, and Iain Sutherland of the University of Glamorgan, UK, have analyzed data that remained on a number of second hand hard disks that had been obtained on second-hand markets.
"The research revealed that a significant proportion of the disks that were examined still contained considerable amounts of information, much of which would have been of a sensitive nature to the organization or individual that had previously owned the disk," the researchers explain.
The team adds that the percentage of disks that have been effectively wiped had fallen significantly, from 45% to 33%, since the previous year's survey. "With only 33% of working second-hand disks having been effectively wiped, it is reasonable to comment that this is an area where there is significant potential for improvement," they say.
They make several recommendations for improved data security - with regard to hard disks and other storage media, including memory cards, mobile phones, and other devices, and suggest that public awareness campaigns by Government, the media, commerce and/or academia ought to be run to help reduce the risk of sensitive data entering the information black-market.
The 2007 study is being made available in its entirety through the International Journal of Liability and Scientific Enquiry. The team is now completing the 2008 analysis and will announce those results shortly as well. However, the initial results for the 2008 study show that there is still a long way to go regarding the decommissioning of computer hard disk drives. The team expects that the complete 2008 study will be made available for publication by the end of the year.
Albert Ang | alfa
CiViQ brings quantum technologies to the telecommunications arena
21.11.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Nachrichtentechnik, Heinrich-Hertz-Institut, HHI
Earthquake researchers finalists for supercomputing prize
19.11.2018 | University of Tokyo
Innsbruck quantum physicists have constructed a diode for magnetic fields and then tested it in the laboratory. The device, developed by the research groups led by the theorist Oriol Romero-Isart and the experimental physicist Gerhard Kirchmair, could open up a number of new applications.
Electric diodes are essential electronic components that conduct electricity in one direction but prevent conduction in the opposite one. They are found at the...
Max Planck researchers revel the nano-structure of molecular trains and the reason for smooth transport in cellular antennas.
Moving around, sensing the extracellular environment, and signaling to other cells are important for a cell to function properly. Responsible for those tasks...
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
19.11.2018 | Event News
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
21.11.2018 | Life Sciences
21.11.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
21.11.2018 | Life Sciences