If your business is just about to purchase some new hardware i.e. Computers or laptops it is an exciting time. But, have you ever thought about what happens to the old ones?
If your equipment is old, and let’s face it in IT terms 3 years, is old, you may be scrapping them. Simple, you may think, switch them off and put them in the bin. Or maybe you are going to sell them, in that case you may browse through your files and delete the ones that may be sensitive or personnel.
Maybe you could put your laptop on a strong magnet for while and hope it deletes everything..
Unfortunatly though, throwing a old computer in the bin, holding it over a magnet or a pressing the delete button is not the answer.
Unless you correctly clean up and remove your data from your hardware, it is open to cybercriminals. And they have the skills to be able to get hold of any information you leave on there, records of purchases, passwords, even old purchases you have done online will leave a trace, that means card details and logins to tools such as Paypal.
If you are business owner and are in the situation whereby you refurbish or change your hardware on a regular basis, you need to ensure that a specialised dat cleanup is required for any laptops, tablets or PCs that you get rid of.
It has been found that most business are actually unaware of this and believe that it would always be done by the individuals or business that is removing them.
If you think this is the case then you are very wrong.. In 2016 an experiment was performed which consisted of a company buying 200 used hard drives. Of the 200, 134 of them were found to have confidential data on them. A whopping 67%!
If this was a drive form one of your business PCs, what information would cyber criminals be able to get their hands on? Old invoices, CRM records, email address of clients and maybe even their bank account details.
As you could imagine, if this does happen to your business, buying new PCs would be the last thing on your mind, unless you need them to find solicitors on Google Search....
Why you should not rely on the delete button....
Every hard drive has an index, similar to ones you see at the front of a book. A drive index has a record of all the files that are needed to run the system and all the files you record on there.
Every time you write data onto the drive, the system makes a record of it in the index, this then helps it to find it quickly when you call the file back up in the future.
The issue with this very simple and normally very robust process is that, when you delete a file on a drive, the index does not work the same to that you find in a book.
Example being, lets delete page 5 from a book. The result would be page 6 becoming page 5. The book index would then require amending to reflect the fact there are now less pages and as it's visible, you know it's been removed.
Unfortunately this is not the case on a drive.
Delete a file and the drive index will say there is nothing, but this is all that changes. The index. The actual file will stay in it's location until it has been written over. So if you simply press delete, any hacker can go through your drive and still find all your data...
What you should do
Well you can buy software and have a go at doing it yourself. But, if this is something your are not experienced at doing, it is still a risky business. If you are business that is updating PCs on a regular basis, you need to be sure that you have IT experts helping you, ensuring that all drives are correctly cleaned.
And you should never look at removal old PCs as a simple task. It is best to have a specific dedicated process for removal of old hardware. Know where your old computers are going, have an inventory and auditing process. This may be slow and delay the rollout of new machines, but it’s always better than having your old, or worse still an ex clients data, come back to haunt you.
At Systems Integration, we don't just repair PCs, we offer a full range of IT services for Swindon Businesses, including safe disposal of your unwanted computers We can help with migration any needed data, help with backing up the information to your server, then wipe or destroy the hard drives for you.
We assess the age of your old computers and either dispose of them for you or point you in the right direction of computer recyclers.
Make upgrading your PCs a happy office time. Get in touch with us and let us ensure that your data remains safe and it does not come back to haunt you.