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 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 wide to be had.

The magazine recovered 22,000 “deleted” files from eight computer systems offered by the eBay public sale website online, demonstrating that ordinary deletion is insufficient to do away with the data. The mag warned that criminals supply used computer systems for you to locate such beneficial records. “Computers comprise extra valuable private information than ever as humans increasingly keep online, 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 replaced via a computer manufacturer.



The problem was highlighted last August. A laptop with bank account numbers, moms’ maiden names, and signatures of one million American specifics, NatWest, and Royal Bank of Scotland clients that previously belonged to Mail Supply, an information processing organization, was offered on eBay. The account information was located via the customer, an IT supervisor from Oxford. Days later, police arrested in a separate case over people’s details from Charnwood Borough Council bought on a computer on eBay.

The trouble lies inside the manner that hard drives shop statistics. An index document on the hard drive, written using the pc processor, shops and updates a listing of where every paper is placed on the bodily hard pressure. While the user “deletes” a report on their gadget, the index access is eliminated, but the information remains with its records the-art gear can locate the documents themselves and recover that fact – which may be incredibly exact, such as a user’s surfing and email records.

Encrypting the force during use can offer a few protections. While 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.”

Computing recommends using a hammer to be, in reality, certain of destroying the data. (the Pentagon recommends shredding them, although this requires a professional device.) however, additional software must be had online to overwrite the entire hard force with 0s. This does have the advantage that the pc will keep some of its fees – even as it is no longer 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 Blanco; 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.