"Interested in selling tape? We buy used tape and offer top cash for all types of tapes, cartridges, reel tape or whatever type of magnetic media you use."
Such pitches are everywhere on the Internet and ever so tempting for companies looking to upgrade to new storage tapes or disks. But those who have bought or sold used tapes warn that doing so can put confidential data at risk.
Vice-president of distributed storage at KeyBank, Dan Nutter, found this out firsthand.
He said KeyBank was left with 8500 old tapes containing customer financial information following a $US500,000 media upgrade.
The organisation considered rewriting over the tapes, but Nutter said that would have taken as long as an hour per tape. So he turned to a reseller to take the tapes off his hands.
The reseller brought in a bulky gadget called a degausser - essentially a super-sized, super-charged magnet in a stainless steel box - to de-magnify the tapes and then resell them.
"We plugged the degaussed tapes back into our library and were still able to read the label on the cartridge, so we degaussed them again and put them back in the library and we were still able to read them," Nutter said.