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Innovation in Information Security

Coverage of important Information Security and Information Technology news and events from the research team at Sûnnet Beskerming.

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Be Sure To Scrub Your Data Before You Sell Your Systems

Although the risks associated with inadvertent data loss when selling used computer / electronic equipment are well known, data loss still takes place all too frequently. Recently, the McCain presidential campaign was selling their used equipment from the campaign, and it was discovered that the electronic devices being sold weren't properly cleaned.

There are features available with most devices to have them wiped and a clean base installation put back on them (though there are methods available to recover data that has been purged in this manner), but it appears that this step was overlooked when the McCain campaign disposed of their devices.

Selling a still-loaded device is bad enough, but when that device happens to be loaded with potentially sensitive and damaging information, then it comes close to being a major problem with data disclosure laws and personal privacy regulations. While the internal campaign strategy from a failed campaign may not have immediate apparent value, it can provide a glimpse at internal party workings that might be possible to leverage against or otherwise allow for effective strategies to be developed to counteract in future campaigns run by the party, or by key personnel associated with the campaign.

Inadvertent sale of data happens all the time, but it is helpful to have the occasional high profile case to remind people of the importance of erasing what data they can (or even destroying the devices) before disposing of electronic equipment.

17 December 2008

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