IT'S 9:00 O'CLOCK. DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR CLIENTS’ SENSITIVE DATA IS?
~ Even After Files Are Deleted, Data Can Be Recovered from Donated and Discarded PCs; This Problem Affects Your computer(s)
At one time or another, all of us have to discard old computers (OK, some of us have a tendency to keep them longer than we should, but just the same, we eventually have to discard them also).
Those computers have hard disks that contain information on the translation or other work that we have done for our clients and for which we probably signed non-disclosure agreements. We are therefore, technically and legally responsible for this data.
Simply erasing it is not sufficient as it can be easily recovered - an often useful feature when data is erased by mistake. Erasing by mistake happens regularly (in fact, another translator, who shall remain nameless, just called me in a panic 5 minutes ago… how do I get back an erased file?)
I have used many tools over the years to recover files erased by mistakes, including a very good tool from Micro-Application, called “Récupérez” (microapplication.com). Some technical knowledge is required, but many people now have this kind of technical knowledge, particularly the “bad guys”.
Whether you sell them, throw them out (you do recycle them, don’t you?) or give them away, you have to make sure that the data is really not there anymore to avoid any potential risk or liability. You could try destroying the hard disk, but this means that the computer is pretty useless, and is not even a guarantee since, often, damaged hard disks can be recovered. However, this type of recovery is better left to specialists.
The techniques to erase data permanently can be quite daunting for the non-specialist, and even for many knowledgeable people. If you think simply deleting the file will do the job, you are sorely mistaken.
However there is now an easier solution, without having to physically destroy the hard disk.
CBL Data Recovery Technologies Inc., based in Markham, Ontario, Canada, is a well known specialist in data recovery. Therefore, they know very well what makes it difficult or impossible to recover data partially or completely.
They now offer a free Data Shredder program for Windows and DOS that you can download and use when you need it. Go to http://www.cbltech.ca/data-shredder.html and simply enter an email address. You do not have to enter lots of confidential information, just a name and email address. You will also receive their quarterly letter but you can unsubscribe anytime.
You will receive a link to download the CBL Data Shredder. It’s 1.4 Megs in size and there are 3 versions: one for Windows, one for a DOS booting floppy disk and one for a CD-ROM boot disk.
Most of you will take the first version, though I personally have all 3 versions, just in case. But then I’m a “belt and suspender” kind of person (it’s also called experience).
This program will permanently destroy all sensitive data from your computer, before you get rid of the computer. You may not need this type of program this very week, but you should have this tool for when you need to destroy data permanently. And it’s free!
© Georgette Blanchard (alias DocteurPC) 2007-04-18