How at Risk Is Your Personal Information?

Posted by Ray Barry

At Shred America, we’re in the business of more than just shredding documents, hard drives, and more. We’re in the business of keeping you and your personal information or the personal information you’re responsible for safe. It’s a job we take seriously, and so does the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID). NAID is an international association that regulates the information destruction industry and upholds its standards and ethics. The well-respected group recently released a study in which devices were collected and tested to see just how easy it would be to extract sensitive data from their hard drives. The results showed that it’s a lot easier than you may think, with highly confidential information being easily accessed by measures that weren’t that extreme. The vast majority of people today use at least one device, like a cellphone, tablet, laptop, smart TV, etc., every day. While these devices provide convenience and capability, they also make data stored on them vulnerable, and more data is stored than you may realize. If found in the wrong hands, these devices can be hacked before you ever notice a thing, and your confidential information can be stolen and used against your will.

NAID’s study showed that 40% of devices resold in publicly-available resale channels contained personally identifiable information (PII). PII includes data like credit card information, contact information, usernames and passwords, company and personal data, tax details, photos, and more. This vulnerable information isn’t that hard to crack, either. Robert Johnson, NAID CEO, commented, “NAID employed only basic measures to extract data; imagine if we had asked our forensics agency to actually dig!” He added, “40 percent is horrifying when you consider the millions of devices that are recycled annually.” Some concerning facts taken from the study include:

● 13% of mobile phones involved had easily recoverable PII

● 50% of tablets had considerable PII

● 44% of hard drives contained immense PII

Affiliate John Benkert noted, “Auction, resell, and recycling sites have created a convenient revenue stream in used devices; however, the real value is in the data that the public unintentionally leaves behind.”

Even if you think you’re “deleting” your files from these devices, it’s likely you haven’t cleaned them as well as you’ve been lead to believe. Even “wiping” them may leave behind bits of information you’re blind to. PII is difficult to fully remove, and it doesn’t take much for even a novice hacker to recover it. The only way to be sure you’re protected is to carry out full destruction of these hard drive devices. That ensures the device is completely destroyed, leaving no possibility for information to be stolen. Contact Shred America for more information on this growing need to keep your data secure, and ask about how our hard drive destruction services can help keep your information out of the wrong hands.