Global data care expert Stellar has conducted & announced findings of world's largest known study of residual data in used devices.
The study analysed a sample size of total 311 used devices comprising hard drives, memory cards, and mobile phones at Stellar's central laboratory in India. The analysis revealed that a majority 71% of these devices contained personal data, Personally Identifiable Information (PII), and sensitive business information. In a larger perspective, the report establishes that 7 out of every 10 individuals are vulnerable to data breach & privacy risks while disposing their old storage devices.
The study was performed to ascertain the awareness levels amongst device owners, regarding usage of secure data wiping methods at the time of selling old storage devices. It also aims to create awareness about data privacy risks when file deletion or drive formatting are used with a faulty assumption as permanent data removal action.
The devices analysed in the study were procured from individuals, online portals & resellers across multiple locations. Majority of these devices were analysed using a publicly available DIY software – Stellar Data Recovery that discovered thousands of files containing personal data.
The residual data can easily fall into wrong hands, and can lead to identity thefts, financial frauds, personal security threats & user privacy issues. Businesses can be vulnerable to data theft & misuse of business-critical information like financial reports, trade agreements, intellectual property, business intelligence and trade secrets to name a few.
"This lack of awareness among customers at large can lead to an alarming rise in acts of cybercrime. It also underlines the acute importance of adoption of data sanitization procedures by individuals and organizations as a safeguard at time of disposal of old IT assets", said Sunil Chandna, CEO, Stellar. "The Personal Data Bill 2018, when approved as a law could trigger development of a secure ecosystem leading to high awareness & risk mitigation actions by consumers & organizations," said Chandna.
The latest 2019 study is a second and a part of continued program of Stellar to measure the risk awareness using NAID Second-Hand Device Study Principles.
NAID (National Association for Information Destruction), an international watchdog for the secure data destruction industry with more than 2000 member companies globally, has commended Stellar for being the first organization to conduct this study by using NAID principles.
"The Stellar Second-Hand Electronic Device Study and similar studies before and after, demonstrate the gravity of the problem to regulators, businesses and consumers," said Bob Johnson, NAID founder and i-SIGMA CEO. "By employing NAID's principles to conduct the study, STELLAR has assured the results are accurate and the personal information found in the process was fully protected at all times", said Bob.