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Do You Know What's on Your Hard Drive?

Do You Know What's on Your Hard Drive?

by Stephanie Faris on Monday, October 16, 2017 12:30

A data breach can be devastating to a business, causing permanent reputation damage in addition to financial losses. Many businesses invest heavily in server-side security to block hacking attempts, not realizing that there are many other ways they put their organizations at risk.

In addition to training employees on proper security measures, IT administrators have begun realizing that the equipment within their organization can be a liability. A lost mobile device can easily end up in the wrong hands, with the data residing on it being used illegally. The same issue can occur with the equipment a business recycles at the end of its lifecycle.

Before you dispose of another piece of equipment, it's important to know just what's at stake for your business. Whether you wipe the drive or not, small traces of data can remain, putting your organization at risk. Here are a few things that are likely lurking on any hard drive used for your business.


Technology users have so many passwords to keep up with, they generally take advantage of the opportunity to have browsers remember their passwords using cookies. Unfortunately, since businesses increasingly rely on cloud software for daily operations, this means that one browser can have all the information an employee needs to access all a company's resources. If a hacker can get into a discarded hard drive, all that person would need to do was open the browser and view its history to get to a business's critical applications.

Customer Data

Even if your business requires employees to conduct all activities on the secure company network, stray data can reside on a physical drive. Employees may download and open email attachments that contain information like customer contact addresses, billing data, and social security numbers. Some employees may save work to access during a network outage or over the course of a weekend. Even with strict security standards in place, businesses can't control every move their workers make, which means that no policy is foolproof.

Sensitive Company Information

Every business has information it would prefer to keep confidential, whether it's details about their product design or a thoughtfully-developed marketing strategy. That data can easily reside on various hard drives throughout the organization, then retrieved and published publicly. While this type of breach doesn't put customers or employees at risk, it does jeopardize your business's future, especially if you haven't patented your product designs. Even information passed back and forth in employee emails can be intercepted from a discarded hard drive, since many activities are cached for accessibility offline.

As a business discards old equipment, it can be easy to assume that once a device is taken off the network, its contents will be inaccessible. But even if a hard drive will be used by someone who is trustworthy, that same computer could eventually be hacked, which means the information on it could be leaked.

Although wiping a drive is a good solution, traces of data can still remain. NCWS uses a multi-step drive erasure process that ensures all data is inaccessible. Contact us today to learn how we can help protect your business.

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