11% of second hand hard drives contain personal information, study reveals

Graham Cluley
@gcluley

Britain’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has discovered that more than one in every ten second hand hard drives contains recoverable personal information of the original owner.

The ICO commissioned the NCC Group to conduct the investigation, who acquired 200 hard drives, 20 USB sticks and 10 cellphones from internet auction sites and at trade fairs.

The devices were then scoured for personal data with alarming results.

In the case of the hard disks, 11 percent contained personal information. According to the ICO report, 37 percent contained non-personal information, and only 38 percent of devices had been wiped. A further 14 percent of the drives were too damaged to be readable.

34,000 of the files examined contained personal or corporate information – including scanned bank statements, passports, birth certificates, employee information, full bank details, family photos, and tax and medical information.

Naked Security has…

Read more in my article on the Naked Security website.

Found this article interesting? Follow Graham Cluley on Twitter to read more of the exclusive content we post.


Graham Cluley is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of computer security, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley, or drop him an email.

What do you think? Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.