Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Vulnerabilities / Threats

3/20/2019
02:15 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Less Than 3% of Recycled Computing Devices Properly Wiped

Researchers find that companies that refurbish or accept old equipment as donations don't necessarily clean them of data as promised.

Here's some eyepopping data about the computing devices that wind up at businesses that refurbish computers or accept donated devices: Out of 85 devices tested by researchers at Rapid7, only two were wiped properly – and three were encrypted.

Tod Beardsley, director of research at Rapid7, says the study was the brainchild of Josh Frantz, a senior security consultant at Rapid7, who made the project a labor of love on nights and weekends.

Frantz tested desktops, laptops, removable media, hard drives, and cell phones from 31 businesses around his home in Wisconsin. He spent about $600 on the equipment. At the end of the six-month project, he found that many of the refurbishing and donation businesses don't actually wipe data from those devices as promised.

"One of the big problems with the devices that wind up at these place is that it's often hard to distinguish between work and personal devices today because so many people mix their personal and work lives," Beardsley says. "From an IT perspective, it's really important for corporate IT departments to set a policy that when the company refreshes devices that they all get wiped before the employee receives the new device. And for personal devices like a smartphone, it's much easier today to wipe a phone and return it to the factory settings."

In a blog posted by Rapid7 earlier this week, Frantz reported some of his findings. Data found on the exposed devices included the following:

  • 41 Social Security numbers
  • 19 credit card numbers
  • Two passport numbers
  • 147,000 emails
  • 214,000 images/photos

Frank Dickson, a research vice president at IDC, says it's actually surprising that Rapid7 found any computers that were properly wiped. He says companies should be careful about everything from old ATM machines (not all ATMs are properly managed by banks), printers, fax machines, computers, and smartphones.

"With printers, for example, the company may have it on a lease so they have to be sure to wipe the data on those printers before it goes back to the leasing company," Dickson says. "While it’s not clear how large a threat vector this is, the opportunity is there. This is one of easiest security issues to solve. You just have to remove the threat.

"If you don't have time to wipe the device, use a hammer."

Related Content:

Steve Zurier has more than 30 years of journalism and publishing experience, most of the last 24 of which were spent covering networking and security technology. Steve is based in Columbia, Md. View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 4/7/2020
The Coronavirus & Cybersecurity: 3 Areas of Exploitation
Robert R. Ackerman Jr., Founder & Managing Director, Allegis Capital,  4/7/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
6 Emerging Cyber Threats That Enterprises Face in 2020
This Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at six emerging cyber threats that enterprises could face in 2020. Download your copy today!
Flash Poll
State of Cybersecurity Incident Response
State of Cybersecurity Incident Response
Data breaches and regulations have forced organizations to pay closer attention to the security incident response function. However, security leaders may be overestimating their ability to detect and respond to security incidents. Read this report to find out more.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-20637
PUBLISHED: 2020-04-08
An issue was discovered in Varnish Cache before 6.0.5 LTS, 6.1.x and 6.2.x before 6.2.2, and 6.3.x before 6.3.1. It does not clear a pointer between the handling of one client request and the next request within the same connection. This sometimes causes information to be disclosed from the connecti...
CVE-2020-11650
PUBLISHED: 2020-04-08
An issue was discovered in iXsystems FreeNAS 11.2 and 11.3 before 11.3-U1. It allows a denial of service.
CVE-2020-11653
PUBLISHED: 2020-04-08
An issue was discovered in Varnish Cache before 6.0.6 LTS, 6.1.x and 6.2.x before 6.2.3, and 6.3.x before 6.3.2. It occurs when communication with a TLS termination proxy uses PROXY version 2. There can be an assertion failure and daemon restart, which causes a performance loss.
CVE-2020-2732
PUBLISHED: 2020-04-08
A flaw was discovered in the way that the KVM hypervisor handled instruction emulation for an L2 guest when nested virtualisation is enabled. Under some circumstances, an L2 guest may trick the L0 guest into accessing sensitive L1 resources that should be inaccessible to the L2 guest.
CVE-2020-1627
PUBLISHED: 2020-04-08
A vulnerability in Juniper Networks Junos OS on vMX and MX150 devices may allow an attacker to cause a Denial of Service (DoS) by sending specific packets requiring special processing in microcode that the flow cache can't handle, causing the riot forwarding daemon to crash. By continuously sending ...