When You Delete Hard Drive Files, Are You Sure They Are Really Deleted?
Your personal computer is often a starting point for the crime of Identity Theft, this is where the bad guys look for bits of your personal information, passwords or even credit card numbers. They often look through your deleted files, that’s right the files that you though were no longer there could still be accessible. The good news is that there are software programs available that will permanently erase deleted files, One of these programs should be part of every computer users tool kit.
When you send a file to the recycle bin, use the delete button to delete a file a photo or anything else. All that really happens is that the attribute that calls that file is changed so that it does not load; the file itself is still intact and accessible on your hard drive. If the attribute is for some reason changed back to again instructing the file to load, it will. This is a simple explanation of what happens when you use the restore command.
Operating system software keeps lists of various files in a variety of places on your computer, while the actual file is stored on your hard drive, your backup hard drive, or even on removable media. Until all of those copies of the original file have been scrubbed and actually overwritten by other text they can be resurrected by simple, readily available data recovery software.
Many files that you would like to delete are sensitive in nature, you want them to be for your eyes only. Records of websites you have visited are retained in various places on your computer. Pass word files, credit card numbers, records of your online transactions. These are all things that when you finish with them, you do not want other people to see.
This should send a chill up your spine. A recent study of over 100 old computer drives (many of them still formatted) revealed more than 5,000 credit card numbers, medical correspondences, love letters, pornography, and banking information. These old hard drives could have been recovered from discarded computers.
Why should you be concerned? Identity Theft is the fastest growing crime in our society. Many times the information needed to start an Identity Theft crime is gathered from an unprotected computer.
How does this information get found?
Anyone who has access to your computer; friend, spouse, boss, co-worker can find deleted information on your computer. They do not have to be a tech wizard.
Hackers constantly cruise the Internet looking for computers that they can gain access too. And with the proliferation of wireless hotspots there are thousands of vulnerable computers online 24/7. When they find one they will use software that will decode passwords, find user names, and look for any bits of information they want to use. The victim, could be you, may never know that their information has been compromised, until they start getting declined for credit or loans, or until they get a credit card bill with charges they did not make. Sometimes the thieves will even submit an address change to your credit card issuer; you will not even get a bill until it is too late.
When you delete an email, no one else can ever read it and when you close your web browser, the sites you’ve been surfing disappear forever – right? Wrong
Here are 5 defenses every security conscience computer user needs to employ.
An updated virus suite, and this does not mean the free version included in your operating system. You need a commercial package that will update your computer automatically to new threats, scan your email, and include protection from spyware and adware. Many of the best credit monitoring services available offer antivirus as well as anti keystroke encryption to keep your pc safe
You need to have the absolute discipline to never open an email message that is not from a trusted source, or that you do not recognize the sender.
You need to perform regular backups, some of the current security/virus suites also offer automatic scheduling of backups.
You should also be using software dubbed shredder programs that permanently erase deleted files. These programs will ferret out all mentions of the files and information you want to delete, and scrub them from your system, and even overwrite deleted hard drive file with random information.
And finally you need to stay abreast of developing threats to computer security, new ones are hatched daily. Occasionally read a computer magazine or at least search for articles that discuss computer security.