The University of Aberlay bought 100 used USBs, from which the information they stored had been removed, and found that there were files in them that could be easily extracted. The files were collected using a USB Write Blocker program, which you use to download bulk data from Appliances.
The team was able to extract files that included passwords, bank statements, health records and more.
Professor Karen Renaud from Abertay Cybersecurity Department said: "This is an extremely worrying event and the potential for this information to be misused has extremely serious consequences."
When the team first connected the USB drives to computer, it appeared that 98 of them were empty. But as soon as they plugged them into the USB Writer Blocker, the documents appeared immediately - only 32 of the drives were properly cleaned.
According to the researchers, the vendors would not have known that they had left data on the drive: "Many people do not realize it, but the way many computers delete files does not remove them. What happens is that file is removed from the index so that it is effectively hidden. "
"However, they are still there and if you know how, you can easily retrieve them using publicly available tools."
However, there is a method for properly deleting files from devices.
On the computer, open the command prompt from the menu “Inception”And enter“format e: / p: 3”(If“ e ”is not the letter for the flash drive, change it accordingly).
On a Mac, open the application disk Utility, select the drive, click “Deletion”And then click“Security options”And scroll to“3-pass safe erase".