How to Protect Yourself – Wipe Your Data
Seven years ago, author and security pioneer Simson Garfinkel conducted a study of data he found on second-hand hard drives. He bought the hard drive from an old ATM machine on eBay and it still had the information on 827 bank account PINs. Another drive he purchased on eBay had previously been owned by a medical center and contained information on 31,000 credit card numbers.The amount of data found on current used or resold machines is still staggering. A study published last year by Kessler International found that nearly half of the drives purchased from eBay contained personal data such as e-mail, photos, and confidential documents.
First, you should understand that neither deleting files nor reformatting your hard drive will suffice to remove data permanently. Both processes really just remove the information that the hard drive needs to find the data–sort of like taking off the file drawer label without removing any of the files in the drawer.
To ensure that your data is removed beyond anyone’s practical ability to recover it, you must remove or scramble the data itself, not just the marker that points to it. And that means you need to use a wiping or erasing utility software. These tools overwrite every sector of the hard drive with binary ones and zeros, and those that meet government security standards overwrite each sector multiple times for added protection.
For the protection of our customers’ privacy, Mad Dog Computer Services wipes all used drives being recycled that come into our store.