I had a phone call last night from BBC Radio Wales, asking me to contribute to a section they were running on their Good Morning Walesshow. They wanted to talk about a very interesting report that is about to be released by researchers from BT and the University of Glamorgan.
The study is the fourth annual one in a five year project and practices in secure deletion or disposal of unwanted hardware do not appear to be improving over time. In the words of Professor Blyth from the University of Glamorgan “While it’s not getting worse, its not getting any better either.”
In brief, some of the data recovered from, or found on, the disks included hospital patient data, bank account details, personal correspondence and information regarding a $50bn currency deal. Perhaps most worryingly, details of test launch procedures for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) ground-to-air missile defence system was found on a disk bought in an online auction!
I have not yet seen the full report, it is due to be published in the next issue of the Journal of International Commercial Law and Technology. It seems though that the good folk over at the BBC have had access to a copy, as the story on the BBC News website has more complete details on what the researchers uncovered.
Remember, a standard deletion of data from a disk can be likened to simply removing the Contents and Index pages from a book, while leaving the rest of the book intact. To securely dispose of hard drives, use commercial secure deletion software or services, or more simply and cheaply, hit them several times with a large hammer.