14 August 2006

Beating Computer Fraud

Those of you who think that Recycle Bin deletes all your files permantently off your hard disk are wrong! When you delete a file, it is merely given the attribute that it can be overwritten.
The programme on BBC's Real Story has told me that I should remind you people out there of this risk. When you throw away your old computer, the hard drive usually goes with it unless you remove it. It is not destroyed, but instead, recycled or kept in storage as e-waste. People can buy these from places like Nigeria. People can get file recovery software (which may be generic) that can recover almost all of your files on your drive. If you use your computer for private and personal information, doesn't that make you think differently? Those people can steal your bank details, your address, phone number, name - all the factors of your identity - and use it for computer fraud. Just because fraud is wrong doesn't mean people won't do it.
The only way to ensure that your data and information is gone forever could be:
  • Smashing your computer's hard drive like hell! You can watch some videos on YouTube for some... inspiration.
  • Formatting and securely deleting your files (using qualified purchased software).
  • Keep it. Attach it as a spare hard drive. Backup your files and keep the old hard drive stored somewhere else.
Also, e-waste is the name for the other materials found inside a computer. There are toxins inside them, some rumoured to be lead and mercury. These materials don't degrade by themselves, they are kept in storage, and the toxins escape due to weathering. People, especially children and workers in Africa, are required to either live among these or to destroy them for money, which harms them.
People, I hope you are aware that throwing away a computer or giving it away is dangerous in more than one way.
You can read about some interesting cybercrime stories on the Symantec website.