Don’t let your Data fall into the wrong hands!

15 December 2011

Tony Neate, from e-Crime Wales and Managing Director of “Get Safe Online”, has issued a reminder about the dangers of organisations disposing of computer equipment without taking adequate steps to ensure their data is properly deleted from hard drives.

As a result of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive, introduced in 2007, companies have been advised to dispose of equipment in environmentally clean and sustainable ways. This is great for the environment and helping businesses to gain maximum use from equipment through its entire potential productive life. This is an excellent way of minimising impact on the environment, and can be done safely, although it is important for organisations to establish proper and thorough processes to delete data.

Although most IT professionals know that when you hit the “Delete” key and empty the “Recycle Bin” in Windows the data is still kept on your hard drive, those with less IT knowledge may not be aware of this. Files, and fragments of files can be recovered from hard drives in a lot of different ways.

Think about it – your customer database, Excel pricing models, tender documents, staff records and other information could all be headed out of the door to the recycling company to be bought by someone. Doesn’t that make you feel uncomfortable? It should.

IntaForensics recently conducted an experiment – we bought a batch of 70 hard drives from a reputable computer component recycling company. The drives should have been clean – but we easily recovered e-mail and files from 7 drives (10% of the sample). The information could easily have fallen into the wrong hands or be sold to people with an interest in it.

Stay safe and clean your hard drives properly before disposal

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Case Review Manager - Criminal Cases Review Commission