More than half of IT pros don't erase data properly

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A new study reveals that 53 percent of IT professionals use common, but ineffective, methods to erase data on corporate computers, external drives and servers.

The survey by Blancco Technology Group of over 400 professionals worldwide found that 31 percent report dragging individual files to the Recycle Bin and 22 percent reformat the entire drive.

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"Over the last several years, we’ve worked with businesses in the finance, healthcare and government sectors to help them understand the need to permanently and verifiably erase data from IT equipment and devices," says Richard Stiennon, a former Gartner analyst and now chief strategy officer of Blancco. "But while organizations may see the value of data removal when their equipment reaches end of life, they often overlook and dismiss the importance of erasing active files from desktop computers, laptops, external drives and servers. In doing so, they leave large volumes of sensitive, confidential and potentially compromising data exposed and vulnerable to loss or theft".

Among other findings are that 51 percent of respondents believe files are permanently gone when they empty the Recycle Bin on their desktop computers or laptops. Another 51 percent believe performing a quick format or full reformat of a computer's entire drive is sufficient protection.

In addition 33 percent store non-functional computers, external drives and servers in easily accessible, unsecured locations. A worrying 30 percent of organizations don’t have written data retention or removal policies in place either.

However, data removal is moving up the list of IT security priorities. Over one-third (34 percent) of respondents say data removal is high on their list of security priorities and 47 percent place it in the middle of their list.

There is a fear of losing credentials and intellectual property, 14 percent of respondents are most concerned with securing confidential product development materials, followed by company revenue statements (12 percent), customer contracts (11 percent), usernames and passwords to the company intranet (10 percent), and login credentials to company systems and portals (9 percent).

The full results of the study are available to download from the Blancco website.

Photo credit: Kirill__M /Shutterstock

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