Personal information left on discarded equipment overlooked

In a recent study, a security measure was overlooked time and time again — personal information was left on discarded electronic equipment.

With the recent ransom of eight million patient records in Virginia from a secure site and identity theft at an all time high, it’s troubling to learn personal information is being left on discarded memory equipment.

A new research study of memory disks bought through computer auctions, computer fairs and eBay has uncovered an alarming amount of personal and corporate information left on computers.

Of  300 disks examined, 34% still held sensitive personal data that could identify the individual. Identifying commercial data was also found on the hard drives.

Information included bank account details, medical records, confidential business plans, financial company data, personal id numbers, job descriptions and even launch procedures for a US military missile air defense system.

The study was carried out by BT’s Security Research Centre in collaboration with the University of Glamorgan in Wales, Edith Cowan University in Australia and Longwood University in the US.

“Of significant concern is the number of large organizations that are still not disposing of confidential information in a secure manner. In the current financial climate they risk losing highly valuable propriety data,” said Professor Andrew Blyth, who is in charge of research at the University of Glamorgan.

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