Monday, 12 February 2007

ID theft risk when replacing work PCs

You might think your personal details are safe with your employer – but what happens when your work computers are replaced?

Most companies are not doing enough to stop their secrets – and yours – falling into the hands of fraudsters when they get rid of old machines, a report warns.
Less than half use expert firms to destroy used PCs, with most selling the units to employees or on the second- hand market, a survey of 329 British companies found.

Crooks are then able to obtain sensitive information from the hard drives. The risk of identity fraud is soaring because many machines end up in West Africa, where ID theft and corruption scams are rife.

'We have all heard about PCs thrown away in council tips that have ended up in West Africa, with local extortionists and opportunists selling the contents, such as bank account details, for less than £20,' said Martin Allen, of data security firm Pointsec, which carried out the survey.
'Many corporations also sell their old PCs to second-hand dealers who often do not have the skills or resources to clean them adequately.'