Getting to know your neighbors better used to involve a lot of legwork: heading next door for dinner, chatting over the fence, signing up for the Neighborhood watch, et cetera. The times, they are a-changin', though, and a new study commissioned by Britain's Information Commissioner's Office suggests that these days, all you have to do to understand your fellow man is buy a used hard drive. Almost half of all used hard drives tested by the organization still contained information from their previous owners.
By "almost half," we mean a whopping 48 percent. A full 11 percent of the hard drives contained personal information, while 3 percent of the 200 drives tested contained really, really personal information, including copies of passports, resumes, tax info, birth certificates, driver's licenses, health information and full bank details. Some of drives originally came from businesses; everyday folks weren't just scanning birth certificates into PCs.
Of the 52 percent of drives that didn't contain information from the previous owner, only 38 percent of them were actually wiped; the other 14 percent were damaged and unreadable, highlighting one of the major risks of buying used technology.
"We live in a world where personal and company information is a highly valuable commodity," says ICO Commissioner Christopher Graham. "It is important that people do everything they can to stop their details from falling into the wrong hands."