Tomorrow, the full force of Singapore’s Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) comes into effect. It’s purpose is to protect individuals from unscrupulous use of personal data by organisations. We are more concerned than ever about our personal data and privacy these days. Have you considered personal data that you’re unwittingly throwing away?
Yeah, it’s not just online or on the Internet where you face potential risks. How about the variety of data storage media that you’re throwing away? For example, the old computer you’re no longer using, do you just dump it out? Do you simply give it to someone else?
You may think the probability is low for your personal data to be harvested from stuff you throw away. Low probability, however, is not no chance of it happening. Would you mind if some stranger, not even necessarily a person with malicious intent, picked up your stuff and went through your files? Given the among of stuff you’re potentially going to be throwing out, or simply losing, it’s only a matter of time you lose something that you mind about.
Before you throw away your old computer, remember to destroy the data stored it’s hard disk. Remember that formatting the disk drive is next to useless in removing your data. You should minimally look at running some sort of secure erase program such as DBAN.
Better yet, physically destroy the disk. Unscrew it. Break it. It’s a fun opportunity to see what’s inside a hard disk drive.
Don’t forget the disk drives in portable enclosures and external desktop enclosures. It may be a pain to remove the enclosure. It’s still a hard disk in there, after all.
Encrypting your data may not necessary make it easier to destroy them. I know, you might think with no key, the encrypted stuffs are useless. That’s true. But would it be possible for the key to be also on the disk? The key would at least have to be read into the computer’s memory, and your operating system could have written the memory into an on-disk swap file.
More and more of our stuff are getting stored digitally. It’s not just malicious online attackers who are out to get your data. You could be the one giving away your personal data through stuffs that you throw out.