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Study carried out by ICO finds personal information on hard disks

The BBC has reported on a recent study carried out by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), suggesting that ‘one in 10 second-hand hard drives still contain the original user’s personal information’.

As part of the study, the ICO purchased devices from various sources, including eBay and computer fairs, and discovered that from the 200 hard disks collected, 11% of them contained personal information.

Alarmingly, ‘at least two of the drives had enough information to enable someone to steal the former owners’ identities’.

“We live in a world where personal and company information is a highly valuable commodity,” said Information Commissioner Christopher Graham.

“It is important that people do everything they can to stop their details from falling into the wrong hands.”

Among the 34,000 files found were scanned bank statements, passports, information on previous driving offences and some medical details.

Four of the hard drives came from organisations rather than individuals and contained information about employees and clients, including health and financial details.

All four organisations had been contacted, and had subsequently taken action to securely erase data on old equipment, the ICO said.

The ICO has published guidance for individuals on how to securely delete information.