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Study finds devices are not wiped properly

Ryan Francis | March 29, 2017
Smartphones and tablets among those found on second-hand market with Personally Identifiable Information.

NAID reported it recovered the following PII data from the hard drives:

  • Credit card information
  • Names
  • Addresses
  • Photographs
  • Videos
  • Emails
  • Usernames (files named users.doc etc)
  • Passwords (files named passwords.txt etc)
  • Company and Personal financial information
  • Physical navigation history
  • Internet navigation history
  • Social media credentials
  • Tax information

NAID recovered the following PII data on smartphones:

  • Names
  • Phone numbers
  • Addresses

And the following PII data was recovered from the tablets NAID received:

  • Credit card information
  • Names
  • Addresses
  • Photographs
  • Emails
  • Usernames (files named users.doc etc)
  • Passwords (files named passwords.txt etc)
  • Physical navigation history
  • Internet navigation history
  • Social media credentials

Robert Johnson, NAID CEO, points out that while this study’s results show a decrease in data found compared to past studies, “NAID employed only basic measures to extract data – imagine if we had asked our forensics agency to actually dig!”

He goes on to surmise that “40 percent is horrifying when you consider the millions of devices that are out there.”

Johnson cautions that the results are not an indictment of reputable commercial services providing secure data erasure. “We know by the ongoing audits we conduct of NAID Certified service providers that when overwriting is properly done, it is a trustworthy and effective process. The problem lies with service providers who are not qualified and, too often, with businesses and individuals who feel they can do it themselves.”

NAID noted that there has been a history of criminals buying devices on the second-hand market for the sole purpose of gathering PII. One report of second-hand equipment being sent for processing to Nigeria was linked to an organized effort to mine the equipment.

 

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