Friday, June 08, 2007

The long tail of your personal data...

It doesn't take much of an incident to bring us computer-users home to the reality that we are very vulnerable. So long as things work properly, all is fine and dandy... but if flipping on the switch doesn't bring Mac or PC to life, the day can quickly turn black. Relying upon computers to any extent, we are all bound to face legacy issues, where it's out with the old and in with the new. On this subject, I recently found a hair-raising article from a 2005 issue of the late Ziff Davis publication Sync Magazine. The unattributed piece reportedly analyzed 60 hard drives from discarded computers. Guess what they found?
. 100% contained personal emails
. 75% contained recoverable data
. 50% contained illegally downloaded media files
. 25% contained social security numbers
. 27% were workplace computers
. 79% of workplace computers contained evidence of downloaded porn

The article also provided these tips for completely wiping the contents of your PC:
. Drill: Drilling a hole in the hard drive makes your data virtually unsalvagable.
. BC Wipe (Windows): Run the evaluation version of this program from Jetico ( to completely and permanently delete your files.
. SuperScrubber (Mac): Mac users can permanently remove data with this $30 program's military-strength disk sanitization, available from Jiiva.
. Evidence Eliminator: This $150 program, available at, is probably what James Bond uses to ensure his hard-drive remains clean as a whistle, even to government forensics experts.