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Have You Really Deleted Your Personal Data From Your Device When You Dispose of It?


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The message a user receives before securely erasing information from a computer.

The researchers found just 62% of those polled who sold, donated, recycled, or returned their electronics to the manufacturer deleted their data via a secure factory reset.

Credit: Microsoft

Many users leave sensitive personal information on their electronic devices when discarding them, according to scientists at Canada's University of Guelph (U of G) and University of Waterloo.

The researchers polled and interviewed 166 people, and learned that just 62% of those who sold, donated, recycled, or returned their electronics to the manufacturer deleted their data via a secure factory reset.

Another 25% used insecure techniques like moving files to the recycle bin or trash can and emptying it, while 8% did not even try to remove their personal data.

U of G's Hassan Khan said, "When we manually delete a file, the file is still there. Only the record for how to access the file is deleted."

Khan suggested device manufacturers should use artificial intelligence methods to detect when users are disposing of their devices, and guide them through proper erasure procedures.


From University of Waterloo Cheriton School of Computer Science (Canada)
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