I-TEAM REPORT: "Wiped" Computers Still Have Data



DECATUR-We use computers for everything:to pay bills, to watch videos, to send e-mail, to do our taxes. But in the wrong hands the information on your personal computer can be the key to stealing your identity. So you have to take precautions before getting rid of it.

Most people know to delete files, but that doesn't mean the data is gone.

"When you delete by dragging things to the recycle bin, what it does is unlink the files," says cyber security expert John Bambenek. "It doesn't remove the data from the hard drive. It's very easy to still recover the data if you know what you're doing."

We decided to test it out. We bought a used laptop, the hard drive was supposedly wiped clean.

But two minutes after booting it up, Bambenek finds all the cookies giving him access to the former owner's Netflix account, Youtube videos and worst of all personal e-mail, which for criminals can be the holy grail of identity theft.

So what should you do before getting rid of your computer? Even if it's broken take out the hard-drive or use software to overwrite the data. Because, it's up to you to protect yourself from putting your information in the wrong hands.

Bambenek shared with us Boot Nuke, free software you can get online that will overwrite you harddrive. You can download it at www.dban.org.  

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