Technology advances all the time, and most people like to upgrade their computer every few years. But saying goodbye to the old model is not as straightforward as taking a bag of clothes to the charity shop, or putting your glass bottles out on a Tuesday. Secure disposal of your expired tech is crucial to ensure that your data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. So don’t dump your laptop in the landfill; don’t sell your desktop on Gumtree; and don’t give your printer to your Auntie Ellen (unless she pinky promises to safely dispose of it when she’s finished with it).
Does that seem a little dramatic? Perhaps. But think back to all the information that you’ve put through your computer: your name, address, date of birth, and national insurance number if you’ve ever applied for a job online. Your bank details, if you’ve used online banking or set up a direct debit online for your utilities. Your personal emails. Your credit card info, if you’ve ever bought anything. The list goes on. And these are just the areas concerning individuals; think of the horrendous implications for businesses and organisations, and their customers, clients and patients.
So other than never getting rid of your old machines, how can you protect your information? You should have your hard drive shredded, just like you would shred bank statements. It’s not enough to erase files or even do a wipe or reformat, as it’s relatively easy to have this digital data restored by data recovery specialists. Destroying the hard drive is the most reliable form of disposal, and shredding provides a strong safeguard against data recovery. Even most security agencies use this method.
Nothing is 100% foolproof, of course, and it would be possible for a spectacularly patient fraudster to find some of the thousands of shreds of the hard drive and use a microscope to view elements of minuscule source code. This would be so labour intensive, however, that estimates suggest it would take two solid decades to read all the information on a hard drive. This would be slowed even further if the thousands of shreds were mixed up with thousands of other shreds, making the job impossible in anyone’s lifetime.
So how effective is shredding hard drives? Very effective, especially if you use professionals, who will shred it thinly (as narrow as 2mm strips) and dispose of it alongside hundreds of other hard drives.