Identity Thieves Want Your Hard Drive

Posted by Ray Barry

Why do identity thieves want to get their hands on your hard drive? Old hard drives can provide a wealth of valuable information, including your Social Security number, banking details, and contact information for friends and relatives. Armed with this highly sensitive and personal data, identity thieves may attempt to open credit in your name, con people you know, or steal from your savings.

Even if you think a hard drive is no longer functional, it still contains data that thieves can access in only a few minutes with a bit of experience and the right technical tools. To protect yourself from identity theft, consider the methods identity thieves use to pull your data from a discarded hard drive — and take steps to avoid having your data compromised.

Recovering Data From a Wiped Hard Drive

As a careful consumer, you likely take steps to protect your private information. But skilled hackers know that every action you take on your computer leaves a digital footprint in the form of potentially recoverable files. With each email you send or bank statement you view, your computer keeps a digital record —  leaving a potential gold mine of information for identity thieves.

A surprising number of used computers available for purchase contain sensitive, identifying information from their previous owners. Simply deleting files does not fully remove them from a hard drive. With minimal work, would-be identity thieves can retrieve this data. Even among computers that have had their hard drives wiped before sale to a third party, data can be recovered with the right computer software.

Wiping a hard drive provides minimal protection, and a hacker with the right knowledge can retrieve much or all of the data by using commercially available software tools. Instead of wiping the drive, consider hard drive destruction.

How to Destroy a Hard Drive

The best method for erasing a hard drive — in lieu of destruction — is wiping and overwriting the disk. To do so, use software that provides a secure-erase function that writes over any old data numerous times, helping to ensure that deleted files cannot be recovered. Be aware, however, that in some cases, hackers still may recover data from a wiped hard drive.

The only method for guaranteeing complete eradication of data is physical destruction of the hard drive that houses it. Destroying a hard drive requires removal from the computer and the use of a magnet to erase the drive. Alternatively, you may choose to smash the hard drive with a hammer, making sure to destroy the disk surface as well as the ports used for connecting with a computer.

If you do not intend to continue using the hard drive — and if no one else will be using it — the best method for protecting your data permanently is physical destruction of the drive.

Contact Carolina Shred

Wondering how to dispose of old laptop computers or hard drives? Destroying hardware can be a physically demanding, messy job. For your convenience and security, Carolina Shred offers laptop and hard drive destruction services.

When you partner with Carolina Shred, our uniformed employees pick up your hardware and transport it to our secure site for shredding. You’ll receive a document certifying that we have destroyed your drive, and you can rest easy that identity thieves will not be able to access your data. To learn more about our secure hard drive destruction services, please contact us today.