Saturday, August 25, 2007

Computers in the Trash

One thing that's troubled me in recent years is not how many computers are in the trash. It's what's on them that can get you in trouble. I'm not saying this just because I'm a network security student. I'm saying this because there are too many reports of identity theft out there. I work for a nonprofit as a volunteer computer refurbisher which gives the refurbished computers to their students. Fortunately, the hard drives in the computers are wiped before we reinstall the operating system and other software.

I come across around several computers a year in the trash piles and in every case, they have problems. The operating system isn't updated enough, they're infected with spyware, enough personal information for a case of identity theft, imprisonment if the wrong person finds info on there and reports it to law enforcement, or a combination of the four. The best thing to do is to not just repartition and format, which leaves some info on the drive for recovery, but to do a complete wipe. You can format the hard drive around 3-5 times, which scrambles enough of the data to prevent much recovery. Best thing to use is Darik's Boot and Nuke.

One computer had an immigrant's financial aid info for attending a local college plus his green card info. Another had a few home movies of a man and woman displaying rifles together, had password info to get into his airline reservations account, and the owner's resumes, to name a few.

Look up Department of Defense 5220.22-M. This tells something about it.

Sometimes even the government overdoes things. Someone who worked briefly on a military base said that hard drives were routinely shredded since they had secret info or similar on them. Industrial shredders are great for this. Ever seen one shred a car, boat, or other stuff? Do a search on YouTube.

Identity theft can be harder for deaf people to deal with due to the amount of time on the phone and so on. There's been stories of those who have been through it at least twice as well as from someone who had to be reissued a new SSN. What are your experiences in this?

1 comment:

ASL Risen said...

Oh I wish you could use that on your video clip to explain us all how to be smart security our own computers! Smile, Shawn