A number of years ago, I had handed a non-working phone back in a warranty exchange. It was not working and I thought nothing of it. It did turn on but I could not get it to connect to the service I was signed up for.
Shortly afterwards I had lots of warnings from a number of services, including my Google account, my Apple account and some others indicating I had logged in from: Russia, Ukraine, Pakistan, Venezuela, and two other countries. The login from Mars was the most alarming to me…I got pretty concerned…but…
I had NOT wiped the phone and reset it first.
I was able to lock out everyone of the attempts and was grateful for my quick typing skills. I changed quite a few passwords and setup certain protocols that made it difficult for someone to log in to my accounts.
“Where are you going with this, Scott?”
Many clients will hand me an older laptop or tablet and even desktop computers to recycle. I have been handed phones as well for recycling.
Some of those devices still have working hard drives and I am regularly entrusted to wipe the drive clean of any data left by the client and then dispose of the system. (If I don’t keep up, my car won’t fit into the garage!! Especially if there are loads of desktops.)
Some are tablets with horribly mangled screens. Those present a more difficult wipe as most are non functioning and have to be disassembled to ensure the data is erased. The bigger challenge is to keep the glass from getting all over the place and not bleed. Ouch. I use packing tape to ensure that the glass stays put. I even have mechanic’s gloves for the really bad ones.
So how do I protect my clients?
For hard drives I use a specialized wiping program that totally erases and wipes out the data. For the older computers with older, slower drives that will take eons for the wipe, I take out the drive and completely disassemble it, removing the platters for physical destruction and recycling the parts.
Platters are sanded down to destroy the magnetic surface eliminating the possibility of data being recovered.
I caution clients to not just hand over a device – laptop, desktop, tablet or phone – prior to giving it away to donation or the recycle center.
If someone has access to the higher levels of data recovery, you can be sure that the data can be recovered if it has not been wiped using the highest level of data destruction.
My programs wipe a drive using the highest level with 35 passes of zeros and ones that completely destroy any remnants of data electronically.
Why this level of security?
I have also provided data recovery services for clients.
I have been able to recover data from:
- drives that had been formatted with a new operating system – even one from Windows to Mac;
- hard drives that went bad;
- accidentally deleted data and I was able to get it back in some cases;
- a photographer’s USB Flash drive that went bad;
- a hard drive that was hit with the ransomware virus.
I am not unique. If I can get the data back and I am a good guy, what would a bad person do if they were able to recover passwords or other sensitive personal data?
Would your data be safe in a donation center where random strangers can buy computers? A warranty service center for your phone or tablet?
Even some office copiers have hard drives installed that can contain sensitive patient or client data and they need to be wiped prior to disposal.
The Bottom Line?
If you are upgrading to a new computer, tablet, phone or office copier that has a hard drive, please call me so that the data can be wiped professionally on your old device.
Client data, personal information and other sensitive material must be wiped under HIPPA laws and for your own safety. Liability is an issue!!
It’s for your peace of mind even if you are not a business owner!
Are your old devices ready for data destruction? Gimme a holler!
Scott (760) 550-9496