Many secondhand computer hard drives that are being sold through the Internet formerly belonged to businesses and are therefore full of business records containing personal information, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), a leading local science and technology school, said yesterday.
To determine whether personal information had been properly deleted, the business database research team at KAIST"s business school conducted an experiment in which it randomly bought 41 hard drives through Internet auction sites beginning in April 2003 and analyzed their contents.
It said 26 hard drives out of the total, or 65 percent, had not even been reformatted to remove data. On those drives were business records containing the names, birth dates, home and company addresses, telephone numbers and health examination records of 1,349 people. Also, the team found 568 resident identification numbers on the drives.
"Secondhand hard disks are an open storehouse of personal information [from business records]," said the team"s head, Moon Young-chul. "We found such personal data for an average of 60 people per used disk."
Mr. Moon said that reformatting hard drives alone will not delete all information recorded on them. He said special software designed to completely delete data should be used or such disks should be destroyed.