Security Unconscious: Protect Confidential Data, Defend Against Spyware
Article by George Norman
On 12 Feb 2009
According to a study recently conducted by Kessler International, company that specializes in computer forensic and investigative services, most hard drives sold on eBay contained confidential and sensitive information on the previous owner. A staggering 40% of people selling their HDD via the aforementioned site believed their private data had been erased, when it fact it hadn’t.

Over a period of 30 days (one month) Kessler International made three large purchases of hard disk drives from eBay. From all this hardware they managed to retrieve e-mail messages, pictures, online browsing history, corporate documents, and other data. It just goes to show you that you cannot simply press Delete and expect that data to magically disappear. There are several software programs and applications that will permanently and definitely erase data.


CEO Michael Kessler comments: “With size of the sample, I guess we were surprised with the percentage of disks that we found data on. We expected most of the drives to be wiped -- to find one or two disks with data. But 40 drives out of 100 is a lot. The average person who knows anything about computers could plug in these disks and just go surfing. I know they found a guy's foot fetish on one disk. He'd been downloading loads and loads of stuff on feet. With what we got on that disk -- his name, address and all of his contacts -- it would have been extremely embarrassing if we were somebody who wanted to blackmail him.”

With the recent hacking of Kaspersky, BitDefender and the Federal Aviation Administration, one question popped into my mind when reading this: what if these hard drives where harboring spyware? And so I came upon a piece of software called SpyDefy, a program that will quickly go over all the data in your computer and detect spyware without eating up too much memory. Fixing problems with SpyDefy is limited to 20 fixes in the demo version, but running a full system scan is free.

Tags: Hacking, SpyDefy, Spyware, Kessler International, eBay
About the author: George Norman
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