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Written by Living Green Technology
on September 07, 2021

How easy is it to find a list of the passwords you use? What about your insurance details? Credit Cards? What about last year’s tax information? Where do you keep your pay stubs? For most, the answer is your computer or phone.

Your PC and phone are most likely locked with a password or by fingerprint, which is enough to keep your personal information away from most prying eyes. But what happens when that computer gets too slow, or that fancy new Samsung Galaxy takes a tumble, face first onto concrete? Time for a new one! Eventually, you throw out your old device, or maybe you do the better thing and hand it off to a recycler. What happens to your data though?

In most cases, the device you just recycled stores all its information on a hard drive. According to a study by Blancco Technology Group, 78% of used/resold hard drives still contained personal or confidential information. All those bank statements, all those tax returns, all your passwords and login info – it’s all still there.

If you want your data permanently gone, you need to do a bit more than relying on simply deleting files. Improper removal of data can lead to identity theft, revenue loss, corporate espionage, lawsuits, fines, and more. The good news? All of this is completely avoidable!

The technology used by hard drives means that clicking “delete” just prevents the computer from accessing a particular “sector” of the drive. Oftentimes, that deleted file still has all its information sitting in a sector somewhere and you just can’t see it. However, there are companies and pieces of software that can get that data back even if it was deleted years ago. Unfortunately, there are too many unsavory people in the world that can do this too. Is there any hope? Of course!

We call it data destruction.

The Data Destruction Process

Data destruction 1

Here is how it works: It just so happens that when you write data in the exact same sector of a hard drive, it gets much harder to discern what the previous information in that sector was. If you continue this and put new data over every available sector of the drive a few times, it becomes extremely difficult, if not impossible, to figure out what information was there first. Your hard drive is now “wiped”. To even sophisticated technology, the drive is completely clear of all data.

Just like software has been developed that can recover data, so too has software been invented to help get rid of it. Here at Living Green Technology, we utilize a program called Active@ KillDisk, which uses well-defined processes to clear data from a drive. In the past, the United States Department of Defense (DoD) developed a standard that proved highly effective against data recovery. Most of the rest of the computer technology industry adopted this standard, leading to the often-used phrase “wiped to Department of Defense standards.” Over time though, storage technology evolved. These changes, along with the advent of “solid state” or “flash” storage like in USB drives or smartphones, led to new standards being developed.

Living Green Technology is a member of the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID), and we use the current industry-standard wiping method developed by the National Institute of Standards (NIST 800-88) for every drive that is recycled through our facilities.

Beyond NIST, there are approximately twenty different standards available for our use. This includes everything from Canadian OPS-II, Russian GOST, US Air Force 5020, German VSITR, NSA 130-2, and even the Peter Gutmann Standard which overwrites a drive a staggering 35 separate times. Incredibly secure, but most experts agree that it is just a little overkill.

Additionally, we offer HIPAA compliant data destruction to any business customer upon request and apply it to every drive that is too damaged or faulty to wipe with software. All drives are processed in a secure location with comprehensive reporting of serial numbers, destruction method, and date of destruction.

We stand behind the assurance that absolutely none of the information on any device that is recycled with us remains.

DIY Data Destruction Solutions

One lingering question remains…What can a security-conscious person do from home? Most people don’t have the space or the money for sophisticated data destruction technology.

cable matters External Hard Drive BayThe simplest option is to look around for an accredited electronics recycler. If you don’t have one nearby or you are interested in doing it yourself, we encourage you to check out two items that you can have delivered right off Amazon. This External Hard Drive Bay plugs into a computer with an easy-to-use USB cable and allows you to effortlessly connect any typical desktop or laptop-sized hard drive to your computer just like a thumb drive. Once you have your hard drive connected, DBAN Data Destruction Software makes it easy to wipe drives with the same standards that we use.

If you are looking for an even easier method for quickly wiping a laptop you need to get rid of, check out REDKEY. Simply plug it into a USB port, follow the provided directions, and be confident that your important information is now secured from nefarious individuals.

Is your organization in need of electronics recycling or data destruction services? Schedule a pickup by visiting our website, emailing info@livinggreentechnology.org, or calling us at 253.204.4438!

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