Teenage Ninja Turtles it’s not, but having shredder software in your office could be vital.
Find out about just what can happen to computer files you think have been deleted.
How safe are your deleted files?
We all know how important Data Protection is in your personal life but don’t forget your business too. Identity theft just doesn’t bear thinking about - and it’s not just paper that can give information away.
I mention this because we all know the regulations for shredding paper-based client/customer files (and all other paperwork) but I often wonder how many businesses fail to put in place a robust procedure for destroying computer-based material.
- Remember that your computer may be full of sensitive client data and you need to carefully consider how you delete or remove that information effectively.
When recycling just isn’t good enough
Emptying your Recycle Bin doesn't mean that the material you've deleted cannot be retrieved. When you think you have safely removed a document by deleting it from your recycle bin, it never actually disappears completely – there is still a trace somewhere in the depths of your computer. There are plenty of computer wizards who are capable of retrieving deleted documents from computer hard drives.
Any easy solution
There are a number of companies who produce software, which is designed to irretrievably destroy computer-based documentation, and this is the route we have chosen at MyCompanyPension.co.uk. Each of our workstations uses the standard Recycle Bin. However, rather than using the ‘empty recycle bin’ facility, periodically we move the recycle bin contents into a ‘Trash’ folder, and using specialist software (we use Steganos Shredder), it's just one click to comprehensively destroy documentation (military grade destruction according to the software producers).
Don’t forget to trash that Hard Disk or External Storage Device
When you upgrade your IT systems it’s a great idea to donate your old computers to the local kids club or some other similarly worthwhile organisation – and reusing and recycling should be encouraged wherever possible. But you need to make sure that if your computer hard drives are not destroyed by YOU they must be professionally wiped - and you don't just rely on someone assuring you that they will be. Records should be kept of how they were destroyed and by whom.
- Apply the same robust procedure to all of your storage devices such as memory sticks, floppy disks, CDs, DVDs etc.
If your clients' data was ever retrieved by the unscrupulous - you could end up in Court!
This has been adapted from an original article written by Mike Jones, Director at MyCompanyPension.co.uk, in September 2007.