Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Vulnerabilities / Threats

3/20/2019
02:15 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Less Than 3% of Recycled Computing Devices Properly Wiped

Researchers find that companies that refurbish or accept old equipment as donations don't necessarily clean them of data as promised.

Here's some eyepopping data about the computing devices that wind up at businesses that refurbish computers or accept donated devices: Out of 85 devices tested by researchers at Rapid7, only two were wiped properly – and three were encrypted.

Tod Beardsley, director of research at Rapid7, says the study was the brainchild of Josh Frantz, a senior security consultant at Rapid7, who made the project a labor of love on nights and weekends.

Frantz tested desktops, laptops, removable media, hard drives, and cell phones from 31 businesses around his home in Wisconsin. He spent about $600 on the equipment. At the end of the six-month project, he found that many of the refurbishing and donation businesses don't actually wipe data from those devices as promised.

"One of the big problems with the devices that wind up at these place is that it's often hard to distinguish between work and personal devices today because so many people mix their personal and work lives," Beardsley says. "From an IT perspective, it's really important for corporate IT departments to set a policy that when the company refreshes devices that they all get wiped before the employee receives the new device. And for personal devices like a smartphone, it's much easier today to wipe a phone and return it to the factory settings."

In a blog posted by Rapid7 earlier this week, Frantz reported some of his findings. Data found on the exposed devices included the following:

  • 41 Social Security numbers
  • 19 credit card numbers
  • Two passport numbers
  • 147,000 emails
  • 214,000 images/photos

Frank Dickson, a research vice president at IDC, says it's actually surprising that Rapid7 found any computers that were properly wiped. He says companies should be careful about everything from old ATM machines (not all ATMs are properly managed by banks), printers, fax machines, computers, and smartphones.

"With printers, for example, the company may have it on a lease so they have to be sure to wipe the data on those printers before it goes back to the leasing company," Dickson says. "While it’s not clear how large a threat vector this is, the opportunity is there. This is one of easiest security issues to solve. You just have to remove the threat.

"If you don't have time to wipe the device, use a hammer."

Related Content:

Steve Zurier has more than 30 years of journalism and publishing experience and has covered networking, security, and IT as a writer and editor since 1992. Steve is based in Columbia, Md. View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Commentary
Cyberattacks Are Tailored to Employees ... Why Isn't Security Training?
Tim Sadler, CEO and co-founder of Tessian,  6/17/2021
Edge-DRsplash-10-edge-articles
7 Powerful Cybersecurity Skills the Energy Sector Needs Most
Pam Baker, Contributing Writer,  6/22/2021
News
Microsoft Disrupts Large-Scale BEC Campaign Across Web Services
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  6/15/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
The State of Cybersecurity Incident Response
In this report learn how enterprises are building their incident response teams and processes, how they research potential compromises, how they respond to new breaches, and what tools and processes they use to remediate problems and improve their cyber defenses for the future.
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-34390
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-22
Trusty TLK contains a vulnerability in the NVIDIA TLK kernel function where a lack of checks allows the exploitation of an integer overflow on the size parameter of the tz_map_shared_mem function.
CVE-2021-34391
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-22
Trusty TLK contains a vulnerability in the NVIDIA TLK kernel�s tz_handle_trusted_app_smc function where a lack of integer overflow checks on the req_off and param_ofs variables leads to memory corruption of critical kernel structures.
CVE-2021-34392
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-22
Trusty TLK contains a vulnerability in the NVIDIA TLK kernel where an integer overflow in the tz_map_shared_mem function can bypass boundary checks, which might lead to denial of service.
CVE-2021-34393
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-22
Trusty contains a vulnerability in TSEC TA which deserializes the incoming messages even though the TSEC TA does not expose any command. This vulnerability might allow an attacker to exploit the deserializer to impact code execution, causing information disclosure.
CVE-2021-34394
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-22
Trusty contains a vulnerability in all TAs whose deserializer does not reject messages with multiple occurrences of the same parameter. The deserialization of untrusted data might allow an attacker to exploit the deserializer to impact code execution.