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Living in a world of disposability has made us careless in some areas. ‘Things never last’, ‘throw it away and get a new one’, are just two phrases we often hear.
While electronic goods are cheaper than they have ever been, the piles of electronic waste are growing at an alarming rate. Most countries export their waste to poorer countries that recycle certain components. New Zealand had a yearly electronic waste day, where locals could take their electronic waste to a depot, where they would be packed into containers and shipped to China. Sadly, this event is no more.
Apart from China, electronic waste is also being shipped to parts of Africa. Some locals in these parts have discovered another way of recycling material. They are scanning through computer hard drives for valuable information to use as part of an identity theft racket.
Identity theft is where the personal credentials of a person are used by another, for financial or criminal gain.
These criminals scan discarded computer hard drives thrown out with old computers, looking for information such as names, birthdates, bank account numbers, credit card information or anything else they can use to commit crime.
Credit card numbers are used to create fake duplicate cards; bank account numbers may be used to send false requests in an email to the victim; email addresses of a victim can be used for a myriad of targeted scams and the list goes on.
The most important part of a computer is the hard drive. After all, this is where you store all your information on, saving the data to various files and folders. Therefore any electronic device that has the ability to store information should have that storage device removed and destroyed before disposing of it.
How do you destroy the hard drive, you may ask? Well, there are software programs that will overwrite all information on disk with x’s up to 32 times or more.
If you have a workshop that has a vice, you may tighten it in the vice till it breaks.
But, the easiest way to destroy a hard drive is to unscrew it from the computer, take it outside and place it on the concrete, put your safety glasses on, and take to it with a hammer!
You may laugh, but electronic information in the wrong hands can be very valuable. It’s important to make sure that data is not accessible by anyone else, once you have no more use for it.
Courtesy of Dean Stewart - WebSafety NZ