Secondhand laptops pose major risk to company security

David George

David George, head of Deloitte's Enterprise Risk Services practice in the Midlands

A Midlands information and technology risk expert has warned of the dangers to businesses of secondhand personal computers and laptops being sold at car boot sales.

David George, partner and head of Deloitte’s Enterprise Risk Services practice in the Midlands, said PCs and laptops, along with other computer hardware, sold at car boot sales may still contain sensitive business data, which could cause significant damage to a company’s reputation if it falls into the wrong hands.

According to Mr George, car boot sales up and down the country are littered with computer hardware, providing rich pickings for would be criminals.

“Walk around any one of the thousands of car boot sales that take place every weekend across the country and you will find at least one computer or laptop for sale,” he said.

“More often than not these are items that are being sold by people who may have lost their job or have left a company but have retained their pc or laptop and are now selling them in order to raise some extra cash.

“Alternatively, it may be that a company has disposed of their old hardware through established channels, for example donated it, which then ends up at a car boot sale. 

“Either way, if the data hasn’t been properly erased from the device it could pose a very real risk to company security.”

Mr George said businesses need to have a process in place which ensures that data is completely erased from all its hardware earmarked for disposal. 

“Simply pressing a delete button doesn’t do this,” he added. 

“Additionally, human resources and asset management processes should be established to ensure that each member of staff due to leave the company returns all assets and that there is a policy in place to dispose of their hardware.  Finally, encrypting data storage equipment, particularly removable devices, is also good practice.” 



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