New Study Demonstrates Risk of Data and Identity Theft Still Misunderstood and On the Rise
Laplink® found that as many as 85% of previously owned storage devices are not securely erased, allowing sensitive information to easily be recovered by the new owner.
BELLEVUE, Wash. - Feb. 29th, 2012 – Laplink Software, Inc. today released a report that raised significant concerns in privacy security for users of PCs, smartphones, tablets, cameras and other devices.
The study, co-authored and conducted by Laplink and O&O Software GmbH, analyzed a sample of 160 randomly purchased hard drives and memory storage previously used in PCs, cameras and smartphones. By simply un-erasing data with commercially available tools, and without any special hardware, close to 53,000 digital pictures and 4,500 documents were recovered from the memory storage devices. Of the 160 devices, 85% were not securely erased and data could easily be recovered while 15% were either physically defective or securely erased. Although many of the files recovered seemed harmless, some included very sensitive information such as private pictures, sensitive documents, legal certificates and other personal information.
“Users of any memory storing device (computers, cameras, smartphones, etc.) are at constant risk of privacy and identity invasion,” said Laplink CEO Thomas Koll. “Users often feel a false sense of security because they use an encrypted browser and security software as well as delete files that are no longer needed. However, when deleting files, users don’t realize that simply dragging files to the recycle bin or trash isn’t enough. They need to use software that is specially designed to securely erase their sensitive data to be certain it cannot be recovered.”
With the increasing cases of privacy breaches, data theft and identity theft, it has become more important that users of memory storing devices (especially PCs) are better educated to protect themselves. One of the most important and effective protection methods is to securely and permanently erase their sensitive information.
“Within Windows, it is commonly believed by PC users that a file is completely removed from the hard drive when it is deleted and the recycle bin is emptied, but this is far from true,” commented Laplink CTO Jack Wilson. “When deleting a file using the recycle bin, all that the user has actually done is removed the particular file name from the disk’s index; the file still remains on the hard drive. Removing the file name from the index makes it more difficult to find that file, but it’s still there and is relatively easy to find, especially with the right software.”
Laplink SafeErase™ provides safe and complete deletion of confidential data. By utilizing six government recommended deletion methods, it ensures that sensitive information cannot be recovered even if an old PC or hard drive falls into the wrong hands. SafeErase can be used daily, for simple data deletions, or it can be used to completely wipe a hard drive before recycling or selling an old PC.
“Data is rarely safe, unless the proper precautions are taken,” explained Laplink Director of Marketing Neil Minetto. “SafeErase completely removes sensitive data, ensuring the user’s privacy is protected. This is just one angle of attack users must take to defend themselves from hackers and thieves. Encrypting data on your PC, by using a product like PC Lock™, is another effective solution to protect your files even if your PC is stolen. Sensitive information and entire identities are stolen every day, and this will continue unless PC users do everything they can to protect themselves.”
Laplink SafeErase and PC Lock are available at www.laplink.com and at most major software retailers throughout the US and Canada. A white paper containing more details about the study and data security can be downloaded from Laplink’s website here.