Stop or I’ll shout STOP again. It’s an old joke about ‘Bobbies’ aka the London Metropolitan Police. It comes from a time when their cousins in the America’s where equipped with bullets and the London Police where resigned to a whistle and baton.
In the refurbished computer market I’ve noticed that the average computer user will take the time to create a password for their device and may even password protect documents and programs.
However, the day that they replace their aging computer is the day that their old computer is retired to the classifieds, back room or worse still the front lawn for pickup.
Once the computer is gone and the original owner finally realises how vulnerable their private data is they may as well simply shout STOP for all the good it’ll do.
But I deleted everything.
Did you really – data recovery is as simple as data creation. The Internet is a flood with data recovery software that can recover up to 98% of the original contents after the first attempt.
But I formatted the hard drive.
Most people are not aware that a regular format only changes the first bit in the byte. Consequently reverting to the original bit is quite simple.
So what should I do?
There are levels of safety just as there are levels of data privacy. If the information is clearly valuable enough that it could be damaging in the wrong hands then destroying the hard drive is a given. If anyone is unclear as to how to destroy a hard drive please contact me and I’ll organise my custom hammer and nail contraption. It’s very effective.
The disadvantage is that your computer cannot then be resold as a complete unit.
If however the data is private but not likely to cause anything other than embarrassment then consider a 3 pass wipe or even a 7 pass wipe.
A 3 pass wipe is a regular format performed three times. Each pass increases the complexity of recovery. The permutations are complex enough that a recovery becomes exponentially more difficult.
Naturally a 7 pass wipe is even more aggressive and Apple’s OSX offers as much as a 35 pass wipe.
The disadvantage is time. If a single pass takes 2 hours then a 3 pass wipe will take at least 6 hours and so on.
And remember, the same applies to USB’s, disks, phones, tablets, iPad’s, iPhones, iPod’s and external drives.
There are several free tools online that can perform any number of wipes or formats.
Ultimately the refurbished computer must be operable but unrecoverable. It’s simply a question of whether you’d prefer to be Dirty Harry or Bruce the Bobbie.