It is important to protect businesses against threats that lurk in the cyberworld. The threats may seem innocent at first, but usually, those are the ones that cause the most damage. Reselling your hard drive, for example, may seem like a simple task, but it could actually open the door for cyber delinquents.

A recent investigation found that, out of 200 hard drives bought off of second-hand websites like eBay or Craigslist, more than 2/3 still contained highly sensitive information from the previous owner. A good amount (11%) stored private data from businesses.

Some of the gems that the investigators were able to rescue from the storage devices included social security number, CVs, corporate emails (9%), CRM records (1%), spreadsheets with projected sales or inventories (5%). Imagine what an ill-intentioned hacker could do with this lot of private information.

Formatting: The Bare Minimum

The scariest part of it all is that most owners believe their hard drives were wiped clean before putting them for sale online. Two out of every five devices (36%) indicated that the content was cleared from the system, by means of the Recycling Bin (which is really just another extra folder) or by the delete button.

The Recycling Bin is really just another extra folder on the computer.

Not one of these elimination techniques are affective enough to completely get rid of all information on hard drives. With the right know-how, it could actually be quite easy to securely and permanently recuperate the previously deleted data. If you format the device multiple times, the information could be completely overwritten. Nevertheless, there is only one way to be completely certain the hard drive’s content has completely disappeared: destroy it.

If you plan on recycling, reusing or reselling your machines, “attempting” to delete their contents is not an option. In the majority of the tested hard drives, the owners did not even take the first step towards security. Only 10% of the investigated hard drives went through an erasure process, such as formatting in various steps.