Getting rid of your company computers is easy, so is getting rid of their hard drive. You can, recycle them, resell them, donate them… there are multiple options. However, clearing the data stored on your devices, might not be so simple.
It is common to think that deleting the files from your hard drive and formatting is are enough. But that is not true. All it does is to remove the reference to the files and makes them invisible to the directory.
In the work environment, staff will store all kinds of information of their computers, leading hard drives to be goldmines of information about your company and your staff. And that will, of course, attract identity and data thieves. Thousands of company are victims of data breaches, so don’t let it happen to yours!
Here are examples of the most common data stored on hard drives:
Office and Personal E-Mails
Most e-mail platforms will automatically save your e-mails on your hard drive. It enables the users to have a quick and easy off-line access. Now, think about it, most of the communications between staff members are via e-mail. That makes e-mails a great source of information for anyone looking to harm your company or make a profit from it.
Usernames and Passwords
It is safer to have different passwords for all online accounts, such as e-mail accounts and online bank accounts. But memorizing all those usernames and passwords can be tricky, so most people tend to save them in a file on the hard drive.
Credit Card Numbers
If your staff needs to make online financial transactions, they will most likely use a company credit card. They may not save your credit card number on their computer, but the search engine does if they select the option to do so. Every time they make an online payment using that credit card, the credit card number, including the last 3 digits, may be saved in a hidden folder on the hard drive.
Social Security Numbers
Your computers may contain databases client and staff information, including social security numbers.
Office Confidential Documents
People save all sorts of information on their computers and a lot of them contain office secrets or confidential information. They can be in the form of e-mails, pdf, photos or typed documents.
When surfing the web, search engines keep a log of all the websites that have been visited within a file on the hard drive. This is called a web trail and it gives valuable information about habits to those who are looking for it.
What can you do to protect your data?
While your computers are still in use, make sure to have a strong security system. And when it is time to replace your old company computers, partner with a certified and reputable data destruction professional. Don’t let tech-savvy criminals and fraudsters get to your sensitive data!
At ICT, transparency is key. Every technological device is processed by R2 certified staff in the ICT facility in the Boston area. ICT knows how important trust is and values its relationships with its customers. ICT cares about preserving our planet and helps companies all over the country to recycle E-Waste and protect their data.
Author Bio: Audrey Adam is the marketing manager at ICT. She has a background in journalism and blog writing.
Picture Credit: Data Security – Cyber Crime – Hacking by Blue Coat Photos