Protecting your confidentiality when disposing of a computing device can be worrisome. Joseph Moran discusses the options .
When it comes to destroying computer data, the task isn’t quite as easy as it seems. Simply deleting files, emptying a Trash/Recycle Bin, removing partitions or even formatting a hard disk, flash memory drive, or other storage device doesn’t actually erase previously stored data. At best, all it does is purge the information in a file system’s directory that points to the data’s location on the drive and then mark the space as available for re-use, which means that “deleted” data remains intact, waiting for someone with the right experience–and the right software— to come along and recover it days, weeks, or even years later.
This obviously presents a major problem when you need to dispose of PCs via sale, donation, or recycling, send equipment in for service or return leased hardware to a vendor (don’t forget printers and copiers), or just when reallocating systems within a company. Even if a system isn’t going anywhere, the persistence of deleted data, especially if of a sensitive nature, represents a real security risk.
Whatever the scenario, the only way to have any assurance that data you intend to erase is really gone is to overwrite it or “wipe” it.
Read the rest at eSecurity Planet.