The insecure world of discarded computers

In today’s world everybody has important data stored on their computers. Whether it is business plans, corporate secrets, financial documents, or personal information and documents it doesn’t matter. What matters is that it is your confidential information, you wouldn’t want anyone else to have access to.

According to a recent MIT research entitled “MIT researchers uncover mountains of private data on discarded computers”, “Discarded computers, even those with “erased” disk drives, may harbor confidential information such as credit card numbers and medical records [..] Scavenging through the data inadvertently left on 158 used disk drives, the students at MIT’s Laboratory for Computer Science found more than 5,000 credit card numbers, detailed personal and corporate financial records, numerous medical records, gigabytes of personal email and pornography.”

Therefore, when giving away your computer, trading it for others, reassigning or removing it from operation, you have to make sure that you don’t give away the entire history of that computer and all the sensitive data contained on it.

The same MIT article states: “Attempts to erase information from the drives were usually ineffectual. On many disks, files that [..] had been deleted, but they could be recovered using a simple “undelete” utility. Undelete programs work because deleting a file does not actually overwrite the blocks on the computer’s disk that are used to hold the file’s information.[..] formatting did not properly sanitize a disk because the Windows “format” command doesn’t actually overwrite every block – “the format command just reads every block to make sure that they still work,” Garfinkel said. “To properly sanitize the hard drive, you need to overwrite every block.” On one of the “formatted” disks, Shelat found more than 5,000 credit card numbers. Roughly 45 percent of the disks contained no files at all and the disks could not be mounted on the computer. Yet the data could still be retrieved by reading each block of the disk using special tools.”

This points out a very important aspect: formatting a disk or deleting files DOES NOT remove the information from disk! “Format” and “Delete” are routines that only remove pointers and leave data intact, according to the definition of the U.S. Department of Defense.

As you can see it doesn’t even take sophisticated tools to gain access to your precious information like credit card numbers or medical history. Anyone with a low cost and easy to use disk utility can recover this information. Not even formatting will keep your information safe, as there are several special tools able to retrieve the data even as such.

This MIT article is just one of many alarm signals that warn about the insecurity of the stored data. Therefore it seems almost imperative to be in possession of a tool capable of ensuring that no trace of information is left on your computer.

east-tec DisposeSecure is exactly the software solution to suit you. east-tec DisposeSecure completely eliminates data from the entire hard disk: every sector and every bit of information is overwritten and destroyed beyond recovery. All that remains is a thoroughly sanitized hard drive.