Australian Digital Forensics Conference

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


secau Security Research Centre, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia


This paper presents findings from a study of computer data remanence in New Zealand and considers three research questions. Those questions are “What is the level of data remanence in New Zealand?”, “How does it compare with other countries?”, and “Are there industries in New Zealand that are more likely to have data remanence issues?” Computer data remanence is data that remains on a hard disk drive after that hard drive has been prepared for disposal. Typically data remanence research involves purchasing second hand hard drives without knowing the original source and then a variety of tools and techniques are used to determine what if any data remains. That data can range from the mundane such as holiday snapshots, to data of concern such as the credit card details used to book the holiday. This research uses a very similar methodology to the research of an Australian-British led consortium into computer data remanence that has been conducted since 2005 (Jones et al., 2005). For this research, 100 hard drives were sourced from companies based in New Zealand that deal in second hand hard drives. A total of 24 hard drives were found to have identifying information on them and this is consistent with the results of the consortium. When examining “Are there industries in New Zealand that are more likely to have data remanence issues?” there was an effective sample size of 14 hard drives which was not considered to be a large enough sample size to adequately draw conclusions. The data does suggest that schools are likely to be of concern however.


9th Australian Digital Forensics Conference, Edith Cowan University, Perth Western Australia, 5th -7th December 2011