Yesterday, my friend told me that when he took his Apple computer for repair he was told his hard drive had to be replaced and that he couldn’t have the original back, even though it contains sensitive data of his and his clients — including credit card numbers and bank account logins.
His drive was backed up, so it wasn’t data loss he was worried about. It was identity theft. And here’s the scary part – most major manufacturers have exactly the hard drive replacement policy.
“One year ago, Hank Gerbus had his hard drive replaced at a Best Buy store in Cincinnati. Six months ago, he received one of the most disturbing phone calls of his life.
“Mr. Gerbus,” Gerbus recalls a stranger named Ed telling him. “I just bought your hard drive in Chicago.”
When Gerbus took his computer to Best Buy for repair he was assured that, after verifying the warranty, workers in Chicago would drill holes through the drive and make it unusable. But, obviously, that’s not what happened.
Think it can’t happen to you? Think again.
In the most dramatic example, in 2002-2003, says MSNBC, MIT researcher Simson Garfinkel examined 129 used hard drives purchased from a variety of outlets. Only 12 had been completely cleared of data. The other drives contained thousands of documents with critical information — one had 3,722 credit card numbers on it. Another had been used to power an ATM machine and contained sensitive bank data.
So what should you do when your hard drive has to be replaced? MSNBC suggests bringing your own drill. That, however, probably voids you warranty.
When Dell replaced my lemon computer they sent me software that overwrote my hard drive. But that’s not enough. Someone who knows what they’re doing can easily retreive your data after that.
Clearly, there needs to be a policy change on the part of manifacturers in this age of identity theft.
Posted by B.L. Ochman