As concern about the future wellbeing of our planet continues to grow, many of us want to do the right thing and recycle our computers, tablets and smartphones when we no longer need them.

However, while a noble idea, the threats today of identity theft and use of personal data without our knowledge or agreement mean that we also need to know our data will be destroyed properly before we hand over our devices or hard drives.

But the recycling company will take care of this right?

Well, unfortunately, not necessarily. Many recyclers don’t treat data destruction as seriously as they should. And this is pretty shocking because, even if you think you are able to erase your hard drive yourself, the current advice is not to!! Agencies suggest you seek professional assistance with data removal.

The National Association for Information Destruction (NAID) recently carried out a two-month study in Australia which discovered that significant amounts of personal information was being left on recycled computers.

And, it didn’t take any technical geniuses to find this info either – it was all easily retrieved. If the data had been PROPERLY erased, there would have been nothing to find.

Although the NAID’s study was simple and the sample number small, the results are shocking when you think that over 15 million computers are retired annually…

They found that approximately 30% of the hard drives they had randomly purchased contained highly personal information. And over half of those had been recycled by organisations including law firms, a government medical facility and a community centre.

(So we’re talking client account details, billing info, confidential correspondence, legal case records and personal medical information here!)

These organisations have a legal obligation to protect the public’s information… an obligation that became even more important with the new Privacy Act reforms that came into effect this month.

All of this means that you, as an organisation or and individual, must be careful when selecting a recycling service. Never assume that data removal will be carried our properly – ask, seek guarantees and get recommendations!

Take care when recycling computer hard drives