Not-for-profit organisation Digital Links International (DLI) has urged businesses to use proper data wiping software to fully erase the hard drives of old computer equipment in order to comply with the Data Protection Act and ensure that company security is not compromised.

A man from Hampshire was foraging for computer parts at a local dump when he was handed a bag by a woman containing a laptop she was about to ditch there.

The PC contained 70 top secret files that gave details of contingency plans for dealing with a terrorist attack at Army and Navy bases around the UK.

“Not only must people ensure that their electrical equipment is disposed of responsibly, but also that it is completely data wiped to prevent the risk of identity theft, fraud, the leaking of business information and terrorism,” DLI founder and CEO David Sogan warned.

Earlier in the year, a study done by Glamorgan University showed that around half of the supposedly clean hard drives purchased from eBay and car-boot sales still contained personal information such as national insurance numbers, biographical information about children, a template for issuing degrees and the evidence of a married woman’s affair.

These computers had been sold for reuse by organisations such as universities, schools and large multinational companies.

“It’s imperative that people face up to their responsibilities,” Mr Sogan concluded.

By Jane Kettle

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