At some point in time, you may require selling your old computer or discard it altogether. This process usually involves the risk of exposing your confidential information to outsiders or more particularly identity thieves. In order to avoid such disasters, many people tend to follow some untrustworthy measures to get rid of the sensitive and personal data stored on their used hard drives. This unsafe disposal of information could result in revealing your credit card secrets, business assets, and much more.
Some of the common mistakes done to dispose of sensitive data on used storage media devices are given below:
This is much similar to removing the index page from your book. The pages will not be visible to you now (due to index deletion), but they are actually present well intact within your book and can be used to retrieve information as before. Likewise, when you delete a file from your system, its entry in the file allocation table (or Master File Table) is deleted. The contents of the file remain intact on the drive until the space occupied is overwritten by new data.
Reformatting Disk or Deleting Disk Partitions
Reformatting is a means of rebuilding the file system from scratch, i.e. the file allocation table will be recreated. Further, if you delete some partitions, the data on other partitions would be still intact. In either of these cases, you do not perform a safe disposal.
It is way better than the above methods of data sanitization. However, any type of encryption can be broken by cracking the password or encryption key.
In order to securely dispose of computers and other storage devices, you should use file eraser software, also known as file shredder. This software completely destroys the sensitive data stored on your hard drive using multiple-pass wipe algorithms. With the help of these utilities, you can wipe off every piece of confidential information, including entire drives, free space, system activity, application traces, etc.