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Unprofessional Disposals Can Expose Companies To ID Theft

Pointsec Mobile Technologies released a survey, which shows companies do not always take care in disposing their old mobile devices and computers as safely as one would expect. For, they often leave the contents on the computers making them available to buyers on the second hand market. Sometimes a large number of such PCs also move to third-world country purchasers where the data or information may be misused for carrying out many ID theft scams.

The survey involved 329 companies, most of which employ above 2,000 employees.

According to the study, most companies disposed of their used computers by selling them to either second hand dealers or the company staff instead of disposing them professionally. Only 17% of the companies destroyed them in-house that's considerably safe as firms can monitor the process and ensure that right method is followed to destroy the information.

MD of Pointsec, Martin Allen said in a statement that Public Technology published on February 8, 2007 that many know about discarded PCs in U.K. council tips, which may land-up in West Africa. There the local extortionists sell the contents that include bank account information for below 20 pounds. Often large corporate houses fall prey to such scams when they sell their old computers at second-hand prices to dealers who usually lack the expertise or resources for reformatting them adequately.

Pointsec recommends thorough reformatting of the hard-drive or encryption of the data contained in the mobile sets as that stops anyone to access the data without the knowledge of the password. This stays valid during the lifetime of the PC and beyond.

As an additional precaution, companies with very sensitive data in their systems should burn or crush the hard drives, said Allen.

The study found that companies that cared to claim insurance when the devices got lost or stolen accounted to only 27%. Companies that stored information securely on devices accounted to only 7%.

In January 2007, the Office of Information Commission alerted that millions of people in U.K. are likely to fall victim to ID theft owing to improper care of personal and financial data on systems and devices.

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