Most of us like to think we’re very careful with our personal data. A lot of us now have a small personal shredder at home, so that we can get rid of our bank statements and bills properly. Or even better, we do everything online to avoid the paper trail altogether. For the most part, this is a great start to keeping your data safe – but there is still room for improvement. At Greenaway, we find there are 3 key things people do that put their personal data in danger – usually without realising it.
Ok, so most people know not to throw away bank statements, but what do you do with the letters the bank sends you? You know, the ones about the new credit card you could get or their change in interest rates. They don’t have anything confidential on them, right? Wrong. These documents have your name and address on them. Ok, what’s the harm? That’s freely available information. And while that’s true, what that document gives criminals is enough information to impersonate you. With that letter, they know your name and address, which bank you are with and even a rough idea of your credit rating. With this, they can call your bank, pretend to be you and take out that credit card or loan in your name. So no matter what the purpose of the letter, or if it looks like it’s harmless, make sure you destroy it properly.
When people think of data security, they think of securing their networks to prevent breaches, or of destroying their paperwork. But the thing a lot of people miss is the third step – destroying your digital data once it’s host becomes obsolete. You see, even if you delete a file from your computer, it’s never really gone. Instead it’s nestled deep inside your hard drive memory, just waiting to be retrieved with a piece of inexpensive software. So when you upgrade your computer, or replace it because it’s died, all of that information is still there. Every file you’ve ever saved, every password you’ve ever entered and every piece of information you’ve ever put in, all saved on your hard drive. By throwing this away or selling it on, you’re giving away a lot of highly sensitive digital data. Students from MIT conducted an experiment on 130 ‘formatted, wiped clean’ computers they bought on e-bay, and by using a simple piece of freely available software were able to retrieve over 60 credit card numbers, along with health records, bank statements and other private documents. So instead of recycling or selling old hard drivers, don’t take the risk, shred it.
This is where things start to get a little scary. Social media has opened up the world, connecting people from all corners of the globe and encouraging them to communicate. For many people, it has also become a platform to complain on. While this might seem harmless and even cathartic, people can give away a lot of personal information without meaning to when they are angry. Information such as where they bank, where they shop, places they go regularly (and therefore will be out of the house), how long they have been a customer/account holder. They can also reveal personal information that could well be the answers to security questions on their accounts – such as what their favourite pet was as a child of their first car. All of this incidental information is gold to both cyber and real world criminals, who use it to build up a picture of the victim before they launch their attack. Unfortunately, there is no real way to prevent this. All you can do is be careful about what you reveal online, and to who.
At Greenaway, we are specialists in destroying sensitive data, whether it be on paper or a hard drive. Our courier collection and drop-off services make it quick and easy for you to dispose of your confidential data safely, and our certificate of destruction service provides proof that your information is completely destroyed. For more information, or to order your shredding sacks, get in touch with us today.