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Don’t Let Thieves Turn E-Waste into Weapons

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Travelers are walking to drag luggage in modern airport terminal to travel to new places. Rear view. Copy space. Luggage, traveler, travel, airport, walking, holiday concept.

As you prepare to disembark from the airplane, an officer escorts you to a room for questioning. The officer in charge asked you to hand over your passport and visa, and you were worried that you might miss your next flight. You have no clue what is happening. After long hours of waiting, the officer finally reveals what happened and tells you that a criminal in some parts of the world is using your identity to smuggle illegal goods into your country.

And your family vacation turns into a nightmare. Just like that!

Sadly, the story of identity theft is quite common. There is a victim of identity theft every 2 seconds. There is a victim now, another one, and it never stops. It can ruin your marriage, family, relationships, and career and even affect your mental health and well-being. Cybercrime is one of the most extensive illegal businesses on a global scale. According to Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, in February 2022 that ransomware incidents happened in 14 of 16 critical US infrastructure sectors. Cybercrime damages will cost up to $10.5 trillion annually by 2025. 

Identity theft and Social Security card

Let’s take a step back. According to research, human errors cause approximately 88 percent of data breaches. And we make mistakes in opening the doors to the cyber monster because of stress and distractions while leaving our identity in the open. Cybercriminals are quick to find ways to bypass security measures. Everyone is vulnerable. Whether you’ve wondered how to wipe a hard drive from any Windows computer securely or what software to use to ensure that your hard drive is free of sensitive information, this guide will answer your questions: 

How do I securely wipe my hard drive on Windows? 

On Windows, you can delete all files, including system files, using the built-in Disk Cleanup tool. However, file recovery software can recover those files, even if deleted. Use the Secure Delete feature built into Cleaner instead. 

What are the differences between an external hard drive and an internal hard drive in an enclosure? 

Internal drives are installed inside computers; external drives are designed to connect to computers. Because external hard drives do not require an enclosure or power supply, they are easy to transport. Compared to internal hard drives of similar capacity, they can also be cheaper. A power supply and enclosure are required for internal hard drives. It’s also more expensive but typically faster and more reliable. 

How do I securely wipe a hard drive on a Windows 10 PC? 

Disk Cleanup can erase all your data from your hard drive. The tool works by deleting temporary files and other temporary content that has accumulated over time. It doesn’t wipe data from the disk, making it harder to recover anything from it. You can access this tool from the Start menu by selecting Disk Cleanup. Then click Files to delete under Downloaded app files, and check to Clean up system files. 

How many passes do to erase the hard drive securely? 

You should protect your hard drive by using more than one method when erasing it securely. A simple solution would be to format the hard drive and reinstall Windows. But this is not secure and won’t protect you from identity theft or cybercrime. A free program like Eraser or Cleaner can permanently delete files from your computer. 

Is cloud storage more secure than regular backups to an external hard drive? 

Cloud Storage Information Security

There is a yes and a no to this question. The answer depends on how you use the cloud and what kind of storage you use. In some cases, the cloud offers better protection against data theft than others. A cloud storage service is a remote backup service. The files you upload to the cloud are stored on servers maintained by third parties. You can access them from anywhere with an Internet connection and a login code. It’s the same thing, except external hard drives don’t work online (like Dropbox or Google Drive) but is connected to a device (e.g., your computer). What is the better option? It depends on how much risk you will take with your data if you think it’s worth paying for extra protection in exchange for convenience. 

What should I do to ensure a used computer is entirely secure? Is it enough to wipe the hard drives and reinstall the OS? 

There is no way to guarantee that a used computer is not compromised. To protect yourself from hardware tampering, you should always use antivirus software and keep it up-to-date. If you have Windows, you also need to run Windows Update regularly. These steps will help protect your system from malware. Still, it won’t protect against hardware tampering — which is why selling or donating used computers isn’t just about being careful with sensitive data. 

How does one secure an external hard drive against theft? 

Here are some ways to protect your hard drive from theft: 

  • Hide it
    • Keep it locked
    • Please place it in a safe or lockbox • Change its passwords regularly 
Secure Hard drive

How do I securely destroy a hard drive that no longer works without using a hammer, screwdriver, fire, or microwave? 

The safest way to dispose of hard drives is to take them to a recycling facility, which will shred them into mangled pieces, making them impossible to recover. Responsible disposal of electronic waste goes beyond software deletion. Shredding the hard drive is the only way to keep yourself safe from cybercriminals. Plus, it is convenient if you have many hard disks to get rid of. Let the professionals handle it. If you reside in Florida, Urban E Recycling offers timely and secure solutions for electronic waste disposal. Schedule a FREE pick-up today. Call us at 800-922-2980 

When we see cybercrime as a threat to our personal information and finances, we become more concerned about becoming victims. When we realize that our lives can be affected by cybercrime, we begin to think about what matters to us in the digital world. Do not get distracted by technology. Focus on what’s important to you and your business. Knowing the correct information helps you regain your power, make the necessary changes to be in charge of your cyber safety, and reduce the chances of becoming an identity theft or cybercrime victim. No one wants their old tech to turn into a weapon against them. It makes sense to ensure that professionals handle our e-waste. Besides, it’s hard to tell what kind of destruction that old laptop or mobile phone might inflict if it falls into the wrong hands. Your responsibility is to use technology safely and have peace of mind- online and offline. 

A woman in a green dress holding a laptop shows her commitment to sustainability.

Mother Nature doesn’t want your old computers but we do. 


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Mother Nature doesn’t want your old computers but we do. 

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