June 24

screenshot of Frontline's page on Ghana e-waste: Digital Dumping Ground

American TV program, PBS Frontline, aired a feature about the Digital Dumping Ground in Ghana where so-called e-waste is being dumped last night. The footage revealing, exposed not only the disastrous environmental and social impact the giant amounts of electronic equipment waste is having on Ghana, but also a further side-effect: the risk of unwiped data being discovered and used for criminal activity from discarded hard drives!

With the help of journalism students from the University of British Columbia, the team bought several hard drives from a market in Ghana. Upon connecting the drives a plethora of data became visible — from personal photos from a family in the UK to more serious data such as US Security Data involving such contractor firms as Northrop Grumman.

The problems here are clearly two-fold — the toxic e-waste charring the landscape of Ghana, India and China affecting the environment and health of the people forced to work in and around the dumping fields; and the serious data security implications that rears its head time and time again of unwiped hard drives falling into the wrong hands and being mined for valuable information.

The story, while maybe not a new one, is a good watch. It does touch on the somewhat simple, but effective way that consumers can remain vigilant in protecting themselves as well. Using data wiping software like our own CBL Data Shredder to delete hard drive data using intense secure methods should be fairly sufficient.

As we see a lot of hard drive data and discarded parts in our daily recovery work, we also deal with destruction and receive many inquiries about data security post-project as well. It was good to see a report covering thoroughly both sides of the issue as both can always use more exposure so the word gets out there into the public consciousness more.

Category: helpful hints

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