Recently, Staples Business Depot did the unthinkable, they sold computers that had been returned, and the hard drives contained the previous owner’s private information according to an article on the www.cbc.ca news site which states, “Staples resold laptops with customer data, audit finds“.
The article goes on to say that 54 of the 149 computers tested that were ready to be resold, had banking, tax, social insurance, health, academic and passport information…. Also, that consumer data was found on devices in 15 of the 17 stores audited destined to be resold.
How did this happen? It is likely, a person returned a computer for repairs and possibly, due to the terms of one of the extended warranties, it was replaced instead. Then that Staples either wiped and reloaded it, or sent it off to the factory for repairs, either way, it was then put back into inventory, with the data of the former owner.
The moral of this story is, if you are a consumer or end user and return a computer, insure the company physically destroys your drive, or better yet, let’s you keep the drive (you may have to pay 100 dollars or so for that) and YOU destroy it or retain it for backup purposes.
If you run a service depot or you are a reseller that may offer used or refurbished computers for sale, consider simply replacing the hard drive, rather than attempting a ‘secure wipe’. Services like those offered by ShredDisk in Greenville, SC, will go to your location and shred the hard drive onsite!
It is partially due to the security concerns that Homeland Secure IT does not offer used computers or servers for sale. Nor do we offer used hard drives. If you bring in a computer for repair or service and it ends up being not worth the repairs, we dispose of the hard drive in a secure manner. Make sure your computer support professional does too!