Many Hard Drives Discarded with Sensitive Data Intact
Your computer dies, and rather than repair it, you decide to just buy a new one. Harmless, right? But did you erase your hard drive before trashing your old computer? What?!?! You didn’t??
Many of us don’t. But consider this, if you are a business owner, there could be old QuickBooks files on your computer, for example, that contain credit card, social security or bank account numbers. This could leave some of your former employees at risk for identity theft. Not good.
A storage technology firm, WiebeTech, conducted a study a couple of years ago where they bought some random hard drives off of eBay and afterwards wrote a white paper about what they found. Let’s just put it this way: all of the drives contained data that you would not want let out about your company.
A FOX Business article states, “According to the latest statistics from the EPA, 205 million computer products were disposed of in 2007, with a paltry 48 million of those recycled. That leaves plenty of identities in the garbage stream just waiting to be poached.” (1)
The article continues by saying that consumers should wipe the hard drive to Department of Defense standards, according to John Shegerian, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Electronic Recyclers International. To do this, you can buy a program such as WipeDrive V5 ($39.95 on Amazon.com), which comes in versions for Macs or PCs, or Nova Drive Erase Pro ($29.95 on Amazon.com), which works with PCs only.
And for a step-by-step guide on how to get rid of sensitive computer data, NASA offers this handy reference called “Clearing Information from your Computer’s Hard Drive”.
Additionally, there are devices that are standalone and do not require a working computer; you can just connect your drive up to it and get it properly erased.