The most overlooked step in data security


The most overlooked step in data security

In the debut episode of Prison Break, protagonist Michael Scofield tosses a hard drive into the Chicago Bay. Unfortunately for him, the water damage is not enough to keep his private plans private. The FBI fishes up the drive and recovers most of its data, thus seriously hindering Scofield’s plans to break out of prison and vanish for good.

Even though you most likely aren’t planning a high-scale escape from prison, making sure your files are properly deleted before disposing of your device is definitely worth your while. Old computers are often filled to the brim with personal information, passwords and banking details – enough for anyone with bad intentions to do plenty of damage.

Mounting e-waste threatens data security

While most of us take data security seriously during the active life cycle of a computer, this discretion may be forgotten by the time we are ready to upgrade our devices to newer ones.

According to the European Commission, e-waste is one the fastest growing waste streams in the EU, with some 9 million tonnes generated in 2005 and an expected 12 million tonnes by 2020. (Source)

This growth poses challenges not just for human health and the environment, but also for data security. Neglecting to empty your computer’s memory once its life cycle is over can have ugly consequences and at worst, pose threats such as identity theft. You can imagine that when speaking of corporate computers, the potential damages are multiplied.

Disposing of an old computer? Mind your privacy

Though they make for great cartoons, water, fire or putting a hammer to your hard drive aren’t enough to ensure safe deletion of files. Indeed, proper formatting, a strong magnetic field or professional destruction of the device is needed to say farewell to your private information for good.

Alarmingly, some companies don’t take any measures to protect their old data. Many still part with their computers with files untouched or merely deleted, posing a risk when these devices are sold on to employees or other new users. Recovering deleted files is no hard task for anyone with the right program, let alone the right skills.

Powering up for new life

Individuals and companies alike are becoming more aware of data security. However, formatting tens or hundreds of computers can be an arduous process. Letting a professional handle the data wipe is the easiest way to ensure your computer doesn’t spill your secrets even after your relationship with your current device is coming to an end.

Some undoubtedly choose to treat their computers as any old possessions – that is, they never let go.

We don’t believe in letting old data hold us back. In 3 Step IT’s facilities, computers are safely treated and refurbished for new users – making sure a computer’s new life doesn’t become a liability.

Ps. Did you know?

Are your files formatted - or just deleted?

Think hitting delete is enough? Not quite. When deleting a file, your computer will only hide that file, allowing the freed space to be used for other files. Only once something new is saved over the deleted file, is the old file actually gone. If the computer saves nothing on top, the deleted file is easy to recover.

Digital data is made up of a binary code of ones and zeros. The only secure way to erase your files is to have your computer write something over that data, so for example, a bunch of zeros. This is called formatting. It takes more time than deleting but is definitely worth your while – it’s the only way of ensuring your files can’t be uncovered even after you’ve emptied your trash bin.

See the infograph about reducing e-waste globally:

Why Circular IT?

Download the data security whitepaper about data sanitisation and more: