Before you sell your computer, smash the hard drive, says Which?

The handiest surefire manner to forestall criminals stealing statistics from secondhand computer systems is to damage the hard force, a study via Which? Computing magazine has warned.

Even though people assume they have got wiped statistics from machines before they promote them on public sale sites or put them onto garbage recommendations, the files remain on the hard drives – and can include crucial data inclusive of bank info and different personal information enough for identity robbery. They may be recovered the usage of specialist software this is widely to be had.

The magazine recovered 22,000 “deleted” files from eight computer systems which it offered from the public sale website online eBay – demonstrating that ordinary deletion is insufficient to do away with the data.

Criminals supply used computer systems for you to locate such beneficial records, the mag warned. “Computers comprise extra valuable private information than ever as humans more and more keep on-line, use social networking sites and take virtual pics,” said Sarah Kidner, editor of Which? Computing. “Such data could bring identity thieves a hefty payday.”

One which? Reader, Alexander Skipwith, needed to pay £a hundred to get his hard power back from a person purporting to be in Latvia: he emailed Skipwith with a non-public picture to show that he had access to his hard drive, which contained bank statements and a mortgage software. Skipwith had previously been instructed that his defective hard power could be wiped of private records when it was replaced via a computer manufacturer.




The problem was highlighted last August whilst a laptop with bank account numbers, moms’ maiden names and signatures of one million American specific, NatWest and Royal bank of Scotland clients that previously belong to Mail supply, an information processing organisation, was offered on eBay. The account information were located via the customer, an IT supervisor from Oxford. Days later police made an arrest in a separate case over people’ details from Charnwood Borough Council bought on a computer on eBay.Hard Drive Disposal
The trouble lies inside the manner that hard drives shop statistics. An index documents on the hard drive, written by using the pc processor, shops and updates a listing of where on the bodily hard pressure every document is placed. While the user “deletes” a report on their gadget, the index access is eliminated – but the report itself, with its records, remains. State-of-the-art gear are capable of locate the documents themselves and recover that facts – which may be incredibly exact, such as a user’s surfing and email records.

Whilst that may be beneficial in conditions wherein there is a hard power “crash” – permitting the recovery of a few or all documents – it can be disastrous if the drive falls into the wrong palms.

Dr Andrew Jones, head of pc protection at BT exact, told the dad or mum last August that the system bypasses the regular assessments on what you could view: “it’s like [computer game] The Sims: in place of going via the front door, you’re taking the roof off and also you look down on the power from above.” Encrypting the force during use can offer a few protections.

Which Computing recommends the use of a hammer to be in reality certain of destroying the data. (the Pentagon recommends shredding them, although this is calls for professional device.) however there is additionally software to be had on line in an effort to overwrite the entire hard force with 0s. This does have the advantage that the pc will keep some of its fee – even as no longer being pretty as precious to villains.

A way to secure YOUR DISK
1 Use encryption. Vista last has BitLocker; Mac OSX has FileVault. There is also TrueCrypt, that’s unfastened and go-platform.

2 Use secure erase programs consisting of blancco; for a listing, see

3 when you’ve finished along with your computer, securely wipe it and then reinstall the operating system from scratch. Or get rid of the hard pressure and wreck it with a hammer.