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Identity Theft and Computers

When we give away old computers or the hard drives in them, we are potentially throwing away our personal information. Although we can delete the files they are still on the drive because 'deleting' only removes the header. Even this can be recovered with some fairly simple software which is a utility in many anti-virus programmes and other systems utilities software. Formatting a drive also leaves the data on the drive. It does not erase the information we have stored.

What can we do about it?

There is a process called 'zero-filling' which writes and re-writes blank data onto the drive, over-writing your personal data. The recommended number of times to do this is 7 (you can check with GCHQ!) and this should make it inaccessible to all but the most highly skilled scientists. Norton, the anti-virus software company, recommends a product called CCleaner which will perform this function for you. There are other options out there. Be sure that you get to them from a reputable site before you download any software. If you search on the Norton site they will provide the link. https://www.piriform.com/CCLEANER. There is a free option. Check it is going to do what you want. Also, be very careful about what you erase - it will NOT be recoverable after doing this!

Questions?

e-mail [email protected] if you have any questions and I will pass them on to someone who can help.