Careful getting rid of that old PC...

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by magicdust, Jan 31, 2006.

  1. Why crooks love a second-hand PC

    January 31, 2006 - 1:07PM

    People who sell their old computers put themselves at risk of being defrauded or having their identities stolen because many terminals are not properly wiped of data, according to a study released today.

    Second-hand computers, which account for one in 12 computers in use worldwide, are a potential treasure trove of personal information which can be exploited to devastating effect, the study "Second-Hand Computers and Identity Fraud" said.

    Professor Martin Gill of the University of Leicester and his team purchased six second-hand computers from various sources and conducted a forensic data analysis on each one using off-the-shelf computer software.

    They discovered half had not been securely wiped. In one case, there had been no attempt to wipe the contents and data from two of the computers could have been used by an identity thief.

    "The fact that we found so much personal information through a focused study indicates that the potential for fraud and identity theft from the second hand PC market is huge," Gill said.

    "Simply reformatting a hard drive is not enough to make data irretrievable. Anyone disposing of a personal computer must ensure that all data is securely wiped using specialist software to wipe over every sector of the hard drive," the academic said in a statement.

    On one computer, the data retrieved included bank account details, correspondence with a bank noting change of email address and a previous owner's CV.

    Another computer had usernames and password for an online travel account and a spreadsheet with a company's details of creditors, payroll and income tax. In addition there was a list of around 250 names and addresses of past and present customers.

    CIFAS, Britain's fraud prevention service, believes identity fraud is a growing issue and a recent poll showed that 40 per cent of people rated it as their number one prime concern, ahead of burglary, mugging or pick pocketing.