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42% of used hard drives sold on eBay still contain sensitive data

The findings will make worrying reading for anyone looking to make some extra cash by selling their old hard drives.

42% of used hard drives sold through eBay still contain sensitive data according to new research from a leading international data security company.

Of these, 15% were found to contain personally identifiable information (PII) even where sellers stated they had used proper data sanitation methods prior to the sale.

The study, carried out by Blancco Technology Group in conjunction with partner, Ontrack, analysed 159 drives purchased in the US, UK, Germany and Finland.

The findings highlight a major concern that whilst sellers recognise the importance of removing data, they are using methods which are inadequate.

“Selling old hardware via an online marketplace might feel like a good option, but in reality, it creates a serious risk of exposing dangerous levels of personal data," said Fredrik Forslund, VP, cloud and data erasure, Blancco. 

"By putting this equipment into the wrong hands, irreversible damage will be caused – not just to the seller, but their employer, friends and family members. It is also clear that there is confusion around the right methods of data erasure, as each seller was under the impression that data had been permanently removed. It's critical to securely erase any data on drives before passing them onto another party, using the appropriate methods to confirm that it's well and truly gone.

Education on best ways to permanently remove data from devices is a vital investment to negate the very real risk of falling victim to identity theft, or other methods of cybercrime."

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