Confidential Information Found On 30 Percent Of Recycled Computers

A recent study done in Australia by the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID) discovered 30 percent of recycled computers contain highly confidential personal information.

recycled computers

Computers contain hard drives with highly sensitive information, even after they have been erased and thrown out.

NAID purchased 52 recycled computer hard drives from a variety of public-access purchasing sources, such as eBay. They then had a forensic investigator search for confidential information on the hard drives. 15 of the 52 hard drives lead to an abundance of classified information. The procedure for finding information was intentionally simple, according to NAID CEO Bob Johnson. Meaning, anyone could uncover data, not just forensic investigators.

The kind of data that was exposed can make anyone lose sleep at night.

8 of the 15 recycled computers contained information from law firms, medical facilities, and a community center. All of these sources violated data breach regulations, exposing individuals’ most private information. Individuals who recycled computers not related to a business exposed private information, putting them at great risk for identity theft.

Here’s a detailed list of some of the information found on discarded hard drives:

Source 1: Law Firm

  • Specific information about individuals’ solvency status
  • Property title search information including the name of the current owner, addresses, and information regarding owner’s financial institution

Source 2: Law Firm

  • Life insurance application forms
  • Company electric, internet, phone and water bills
  • Court case documents
  • Payroll files

Source 3: Medical Facility

  • Email data with communication between staff and administrators
  • Recruitment applications
  • Company tax invoices

Source 4: Law Firm

  • Death and disability applications
  • Client information that includes policy numbers, names, addresses, and dates of birth

Source 5: Individual

  • Holiday booking quote with full recipient information including the hard drive owner’s address
  • Energy company invoice
  • Leave itinerary found with details, instructions and signed permission to access mail for personal and business from the post office.

Other data that was found includes an individual’s bank statements, a medical facility’s entire Microsoft Exchange Global email address list, an individual’s bank account user name and password, and much more.

Click Here for the full list of the information recovered from recycled computer hard drives.

computer in trash

Use a certified data destruction company for throwing out electronics that contain hard drives.

Electronics recycling is not the problem. It’s how people dispose of items like computers, printers, copiers, and laptops. These items contain hard drives full of information, even long after they have been discarded. Erasing data is not as simple as clicking “delete.”

Even taking electronics to a data destruction specialist isn’t enough, unless they are certified (i.e. AAA NAID certified). Unfortunately many recyclers don’t follow a strict set of guidelines for disposing hard drives. You may even come across a company that will turn around and sell your hard drive.

DataShield is an AAA NAID certified information disposal company, offering services in secure paper shredding, electronics recycling and hard drive destruction. Our hard drive shredding services guarantee information on your computers will never be retrieved. Call us today to avoid data security mistakes that can lead to lawsuits, exposed confidential information, and identity theft.