Getting new computers for your business is exciting, but what happens to the old ones? Depending on the age, some people sell them, others throw them out. That’s the easy part. The problem is the sensitive data on them. There are passwords, account numbers, license keys, customer details, medical information, tax returns, browser history… the works! Each computer, whether laptop, tablet or desktop, contains a treasure trove of sensitive information that cybercriminals would love to get their hands on.
Unfortunately, hitting delete on your files doesn’t actually make them disappear, nor does waving a strong magnet over the drive. These mistakes have cost businesses millions of dollars over the years.
Most businesses are unaware that specialized data cleanup is necessary, others think calling someone to collect the computers will cover all the bases. A 2016 experiment proved just how dangerous the situation can be when they bought 200 used hard drives and found 67% held unwiped, unencrypted sensitive data, including sales projection spreadsheets, CRM records, and product inventories. Frighteningly, they didn’t need any special hacking skills to get this data, it was all right there and helpfully labelled. It’s also not surprising that with simple data recovery tools, people have also been able to access British NHS medical records and missile data, all waiting patiently on a discarded hard drive.
Why hitting delete doesn’t help
Data on a hard drive works like a book with an index page. Every time data is written, it pops a quick entry into the index so when you need it again, it knows where to look. The index is used for files you create as well as system files you can’t even see. Sensible, right? Except if you delete a file it’s more like changing the index to say nothing is on page 10 and you can write something else there when you’re ready. But if you manually flip to page 10, you’ll find the information is still there - the file still exists until it’s been written over - it’s the index reference that got deleted.
Wiping data before disposal
There are software tools you can get to do it yourself, as well as dedicated security firms, but your best option is to choose an IT business you know and trust. With that in mind, a methodical approach is required to ensure not a single drive is left untreated. You don’t want to leave data behind, or even clues that a motivated person could extrapolate any private information from. The approach might include using checklists to maintain security, or dedicated processes to guide each step in decommissioning. Careful records should also be kept, including who signs off on completion of the retirement, and where the computers are sent afterwards. A proper inventory and auditing process may slow the rollout of the new computers slightly, but it’s always better than having your old data come back to haunt you.
We can migrate any needed data, backup the information to your server or external drive, then wipe or destroy the hard drives for you. We can assess the age of your old computers and either dispose of them for you or point you in the right direction of computer recyclers. Plus, the quicker you dispose of your old computers, the easier the process will be. Recyclers will be able to send less of your equipment to landfill, and you’ll be less likely to forget how valuable the drive contents are.
Upgrading your business computers should be a happy time for you and your employees, so with a little forward planning, you’ll be able to keep everyone smiling and all your data secure.
Need help with your old business hardware? Call us today at 614-233-1648!
Every 40 seconds a company gets hit with ransomware and 58% of those ransomware attacks are on small businesses. Check out this video to learn three simple steps you can take to keep your business safe from cyber criminals.
Putting the pieces together after a cyber security breach is costly and time consuming for your business. We want to save you the hassle! We're currently offering a FREE Cyber Security Risk Assessment for your business. There is no cost to you or obligation at all.
Sign up here and we'll get your assessment started!
We are very excited to announce some upcoming changes at Nice Guy Technology! For the past six years we’ve been proudly serving the technology needs of both residential customers and small business clients throughout the Columbus area. As our business has grown, we’ve found it more difficult to keep repair times short and devote enough time to each of you.
We’ve discovered that we are at our best when taking care of our small business clients, and have decided to make this our singular focus moving forward. By dedicating ourselves to serving one group, we can better serve our small business clients through increased remote and onsite support availability and faster response times.
In fact, to better meet the technology needs of our small business clients with multiple computers, we are developing new remote monitoring and management plans with comprehensive support built right in. New options include unlimited remote support, and even unlimited onsite support, all for a predictable monthly cost. This will help us provide you with our true vision as "your tech support department", as well as reduce unpredictable monthly costs due to unexpected support needs.
We will be releasing more information about these plans shortly, but wanted to let you know now about our exciting, new small business focus.
We'll be in touch soon!
Mason & Mary
Decisions can be difficult. Finding your focus can be difficult. For the past three years Nice Guy Technology has been supporting individuals and small businesses with computer repair and technical support. We’ve loved every minute of it and tried to give 100% to all of our wonderful customers! My dad (Mary speaking here) used to affectionately call me a “jack of all trades, master of none”. He used that phrase to help me understand that while I love doing all sorts of things, sometimes it’s even better to hone in on one thing and be really amazing at it.
One thing Mason and I completely agree on (if you know us well at all, you know that’s rare) is that Nice Guy Technology would always do quality work and provide the best customer service. As our business has grown, we’ve found it more difficult to keep repair times short and devote enough time to each of our customers. So, it’s time for us to do the difficult things… make a decision and choose a focus.
As a company, we’ve discovered that we are at our best when taking care of our small business customers. Therefore, we have decided to make this our singular focus moving forward. Throughout this transition, we want to be sure that all of our amazing residential customers are well cared for. In fact, we’ve done the research and found some great, local tech professionals that we’d be happy to recommend for your future computer repair and tech support needs.
Also, please be assured that we’re not going anywhere. If you have questions about work we’ve done for you, or need help with manufacturer hardware warranties, please don’t hesitate to contact us!
Mason & Mary
I'm browsing the internet, minding my own business when a window pops up telling me that my computer is infected. A million thoughts run through my mind. Is this real? Am I truly infected? If I pay the fee will everything be fixed? What is ransomeware anyway?
When in doubt, check it out. If you ever see a strange or threatening pop-up message, give us a call. We're happy to help!
Check out this short video message from Mason (Mr. Nice Guy himself) explaining ransomware and how protect yourself.
Check out our Computer Protection Plans for easy ways to stay up to date, backed up and protected from malware.
Just when we thought spam could only be found in emails and on grocery store shelves, it hits us in the calendar! It's super annoying but harmless enough.
Apple is working on a fix but as of today it hasn't yet been pushed out. In the meantime, if you've gotten some suspiciously strange calendar notifications, we've got a quick video showing you how to get rid of them.
If you have the kind of Spam that you picked up at the grocery store, there's not much we can do to help. ;)