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As technology improves at an increasingly rapid pace, many attorneys are upgrading their hardware frequently. That laptop that you purchased in 2007 just doesn't cut it compared to what's available now. But when it comes time to upgrade, there is always a question of what to do with your old equipment. You might be surprised to learn how many people sell or throw away their old equipment without thinking about data theft.
But you, you're smarter than that right? You would never just throw it away, you erase your hard drive or soak it in acid, or hit it with a hammer. Nothing to worry about then, right?
Thieves are targeting disposed of computers, seeking Social Security numbers, credit card information, bank statements, investment records and more. As an attorney, you should be especially concerned about data theft relating to your clients. You have a responsibility to protect their information, and chances are, when you throw away your old equipment, you are falling short. So what can you do?
Wipe the hard drive by writing 1's and 0's over all of the data. Moving files to the trash is useless as a protection against thieves. You can use Darik's Boot and Nuke, which is free. Or if you are using a Mac, it has a built in program in Disk Utility that can destroy your data to specifications that the Department of Defense gives a thumbs up. As an alternative, you can physically destroy the drive. This can be accomplished by opening it up and sanding the platters, or by having a professional company use an industrial shredder to grind the drive into dust.
It might all sound a bit extreme, but when it comes to protecting your clients and law firm, don't take any chances. If you fail to properly erase your hard drive, you could be handing extremely sensitive information to thieves on a silver platter.