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40% of Discarded Digital Devices Contain Personal Data

NAID study of 250 devices in resale markets found tablets contained the most recoverable personal information.

An eye-opener of a study by the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID) has found that 40% of digital devices available in second-hand markets for resale carry personal identifiable information (PII) unintentionally left behind by the user. Of the over 250 devices examined, tablets contained 50% of recoverable PII; hard drives, 44%; and mobile phones, 13%.

According to John Benkert of CPR Tools, whose firm was commissioned to conduct the research: "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."

Recovered data, from devices used in both commercial and personal environment, include usernames and passwords, credit card information, and company and tax details.

Interestingly, the researchers used very basic methods to recover the stored data and came up with this figure. "Imagine if we had asked our forensics agency to actually dig," says Robert Johnson of NAID. "40 percent is horrifying when you consider the millions of devices that are recycled annually."

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