Alarming Second Hand Disk Drive Study
National Association of Information Destruction (NAID) in Australia recently completed a very basic, but profound study. The Secondhand Hard Drive Study, completed in January 2014 and published February 19th, 2014, showed that a third (15 of 52) disk drives acquired from various random sources were still containing significant confidential personal information. Of the fifteen containing confidential information, roughly a half were acquired from individuals. However an equal number came from attorney firms, medical entities, non-profits and government entities. The drives came from a variety of normal sources of used computer equipment such as ebay. The data extraction did not require a significant amount of technical expertise to retrieve. Bob Johnson, the President of NAID said "Had the data been properly erased, it could not have been found." However, keep in mind, to properly remove data, it requires more than just pressing the delete button.
You see the complete study here. http://www.naidonline.org/naus/en/consumer/news/5163.pdf
Laws Mandate Disk Destruction
The various laws mandating protection of confidential information make no distinction if the data is stored electronically on hard disk drives or on paper. Often times, stealing the data from a hard disk drive is a simple as buying a used computer. Often times, when the data is stolen from a computer, it is the confidential records of thousands or millions of individuals. This theft of information has caused the enactment of various laws described below. Even though the federal government was the first to enact laws, the states seem to be imposing larger penalties and fines for the careless handling and disposal of confidential information. One careless way the data is handled is the donation or sale of computers (copiers, fax machines and scanners) which had intact disk drives containing confidential data. The essence of these laws is to protect the individual from the crime of IDENTITY THEFT by protecting private personal information . One of the first and most well known of the federal laws is HIPAA, which was enacted to protect the privacy of patient information.
NOTE: Any copier, fax or scanner may contain a hard disk drive. As the documents are scanned by the copier, fax or scanner, the image is stored on the internal disk drive. As with computers, make sure you remove disk drives from these devices before disposing of them in any manner at all, such as gifting to charity or disposing by recycling.