According to a newly released survey of 350 leading British companies by FT Research, 38 per cent of firms simply reformatted PC drives and 22 per cent overwrote them once. Only 23 per cent of respondents said they cleansed hard dive contents sufficiently to make data unrecoverable.
The companies, which were contacted in the poll for recycling group Remploy e-cycle over a period of 4 weeks, included leading financial organisations that almost certainly hold sensitive information on their customers. Under the terms of the UK Data Protection Act such firms are legally bound to ensure such details remain confidential.
The study found that the majority of companies claim to send end-of-life electrical and IT equipment to be recycled, but 29 per cent indicated they simply scrap their electrical equipment, with most probably going straight to landfill.
Noel Harasyn, Remploy e-cycle's general manager said: "Quite frankly, this is deeply disturbing. It is laudable that companies are already making redundant equipment available for re-use but in the overwhelming majority of cases, they are not rendering the data on hard drives unrecoverable."
"Simply reformatting or overwriting once or twice as most appear to do will still allow much of the data to be recovered."