If you’ve taken compromising photos and deleted them right away, you’d feel that you’re off the hook. Unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as that. An article over at informit.com discusses how they tried to recover data from used storage devices sold on eBay, and how they were able to retrieve what could’ve been damaging information to others.
Early in 2004 we purchased roughly 10 hard drives off of eBay for research purposes. Our goal was to see just how much data was out there for the taking. While the results of this test were never officially reported, we found that eight of the ten formatted drives still had data on them. Using tools like Autopsy and EasyRecovery Pro, we were able to recover social security numbers, bank account details, medical records and more.
Their conclusion suggested that disposing of old devices like hard drives or memory cards should be done properly, after they recovered substantial information from their experiment.
In this digital era your data can reside almost anywhere. Hard drives, USB sticks, camera cards, PDA’s, phones, or even a digital picture frame could hold information you wouldn’t want the world to see. It only takes a few minutes to properly delete your data storage device, and if you don’t know how, then it might just be worth it to physically destroy the item instead of reselling it. Hopefully the results of this project has helped to highlight the fact that all forms of digital storage should be treated the same, regardless of their size, shape, or how many MB’s it might hold.
So now, don’t go selling those old drives and CF cards unless you know what’s really stored in them. Better safe than sorry.