How’d They Get My Data?

When a business throws away a computer, or even a hard drive, they’re essentially donating whatever information is on the hard drive to anyone who is interested.  Whether it’s legal or not, the trash is available for anyone to take.  This quickly makes data security an important consideration, because there is usually much more information left on a machine than most people realize, even if the employee thinks it was deleted.  Let’s explore how data recovery works.

That wasn’t so hard

If your employees think they’re deleting all of the private data on their machines, they probably aren’t.  Deleted data usually goes to the recycling bin on Windows machines.  This is the easiest type of recovery, because a hacker only needs to turn on the machine, open the recycling bin, and restore any files they’re interested in.  Think you’re OK because you throw away the hard drive separately?  It’s very simple for any moderately skilled hacker to connect a hard drive to his own machine.  Make sure your employees know that when they delete a file, they also have to “empty” their recycling bin in order to actually delete the file.  This will help boost your data security.  But even that won’t stop a good hacker.

That was a little harder, but not much

When a file is deleted, it simply moves to the recycling bin.  When the recycling bin is emptied, the data that tells the computer where to find the file is rewritten to say that the file no longer exists and the space on the hard drive is open, however the actual file on the disk is not changed.  Once a hacker obtains a hard drive that does not belong to them and finds that the recycling bin is empty, they use a special software that can find those files, even without the data pointing to where they are.  These hidden files can be any type of sensitive company information that someone thought they deleted.

It is very hard to actually make data inaccessible.  In fact, there’s almost no way to make it impossible for someone to read it off of a hard drive.  The safest solution is simply to crush the hard drive.  This makes it immediately and absolutely impossible for anyone to ever access the data.  Need some help?  Contact us!  We can help you figure out the best way to keep your data safe, and we’ll be there every step of the way.

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