Home > Awareness, Cybercrime, Data Protection, Identity theft, Privacy, Scams > How to protect hard copy & electronic private data

How to protect hard copy & electronic private data

As announced on yesterday’s post (Privacy: online versus offline), E-Crime Expert is presenting today “How to protect hard copy & electronic private data“.

A proper protection of your private data and personal information (online or offline) could protect you against identity theft, scams, child pornography, financial frauds, privacy intrusion or cyberthreats.

1. Offline

Never assume that anyone is not interested in your paper garbage, letters, etc.

Contact your credit card companies, banks and utility companies and ask them to make your accounts “paperless.” You can retrieve and pay your bills online and won’t have to deal with so much potentially dangerous paperwork. Keep a logbook of your bills to review at least once a month because you won’t have the incoming mail to trigger your memory.

If you need to use bank statements on paper, bills, etc, then use a paper shredder device to destroy them after expired or no need (I suggest to keep them for at least 6 month before destruction).

If you don’t have a paper shredder device, then try to see if any of your friends/family members have one and ask regularly to use it.

Also, you could ask for permission to use the existing paper shredder device at your working place if any available.

If they also do not have a shredder, try to buy in common with your friends, family, neighbors one and share it.

If this does not work for you, then another option is to keep your bills and papers with sensitive information and go regularly to the library, a printing shop, or bank where they may have a shredder that you can use.

Another option for those living in a house with a fireplace or outdoor fire pit, is to burn them regularly in those places, but carefully and respecting the fire bans and rules in your area.

If a standard hand-style shredder is more affordable, buy one and use to shred your sensitive documents. Distribute the strips into more than one recycling bag.

Another option can be to tear/rip them in the smallest pieces you can, by using your hands or scissors and after put them in separated paper containers/bags at different periods of time,.

Destroy the important parts of your documents. If you don’t have a shredder, just destroy the parts that identify you personally. Use scissors or a hole punch to obliterate your name, account number and credit card number before you throw the document away. Take a close look at your credit card bills; some include your card number in as many as five places, including buried within code numbers across the top or bottom. Destroy your name and address, and the account number along the bottom, of any checks and bank deposit slips-especially those free checks sent by credit card companies.

You could also soak them in a can/recipient where you could also add bleach, then drain and dispose of pulp in the trash. This would be my last choice as I encourage recycling, which can be done with shredded paper as well, but not when using this method.

Attend free and public community shred events. Just bring your old personal documents and papers that should be shredded.

Take your box of personal documents directly to the municipal recycling center and put it in the large recycling hopper. This will immediately mix your documents in with several tons of other paper, and it minimizes the risk of the middleman sorting through your papers, etc. It is a lot harder for someone to break into the facility and rummage through a giant steel container packed densely to the top with paper than it is to go through a few garbage bags.

2. Online

A large volume of electronic data is stored on computer systems and electronic media. Much of this data consists of confidential and sensitive information, including patient records, financial data, personnel records, and research information.

If you are with a company or organization that accepts donations or properly dismantles computers, electronics, or hard drives, take them there.

If you have a computer or computer equipment that you believe is beyond repair or is too old to be useful take it to a dismantling centre.

Many computer manufacturers and computer hardware manufactures also have their own recycling or trade in programs. When you buy a new computer you could perhaps trade in the old one.

All computer systems, electronic devices and electronic media should be properly cleared of sensitive data and software before being transferred from you to another seller or dismantling centre.

Computer hard drives should be cleared by using software and then be physically destroyed. Non-rewritable media, such as CDs or non-usable hard drives, should be physically destroyed (ie. scratched, broken into pieces).

Try to destroy or dismantle you hard drive, external hard drive, printer, fax, cell phone, computer, camera, web camera, GPS, laptop because all these devices have internal memory where sensitive data is still stocked even if properly deleted manually or with a software.

When you sell an old laptop or PC, try first to “format” your device and reinstall the operating system- If you are not able to do this, at least try to DELETE:

  • All your photos, videos, music files, located on the following folders: Desktop or My Documents, My Music, My videos (Movies),
  • Archives
  • The folder that retrieves your Mail inbox on your computer
  • Recent documents folder
  • Downloads
  • Library folder
  • Data storage folder
  • Maildownloads folder
  • Info.plist document
  • Key chain, the folder that stores your passwords on a computer
  • Cookies folder
  • Calendar folder
  • Printer folder
  • Cache folder
  • Favorites folder
  • Logs folder
  • Web browser (Safari) folder
  • Sync Services folder used for cloud computing or to sync with other devices
  • Address book

Note: these folders are available on a MacBook Pro device (with Snow Leopard  OS), the order or name of the folders  may differ from computer to computer or from one operating system to another. But the principle is the same.

When you sell your used cellular phone try to do a “factory data reset” and all the information and personal settings will be removed. This is mandatory when you sell your used device.

Step 1: go to settings

Step 2: select SD&phone storage

Step 3: select Factory data reset

This should reset all your information on your phone.

Note: these folders are available on HTC Desire running on Android version 2.2. 

Tomorrow, E-Crime Expert is presenting the video tutorial: “How to protect hard copy & electronic private data“.

Any questions can be submitted to: dan@e-crimeexpert.com

Additional information can be found at: www.e-crimeexppert.com

Have you ever used any of those methods? Are you thinking to use any of them? How do you dispose of your paper mail, bank records? How do you dispose of your electronic devices and gadgets you no longer use?

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  1. April 27, 2013 at 12:16

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    • Dan Manolescu
      June 12, 2013 at 19:33

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    • Dan Manolescu
      June 14, 2013 at 15:21

      Thank you for your kind comment!


  3. July 31, 2013 at 07:46

    Thank you from Belleek 😉

  1. September 18, 2011 at 10:35
  2. September 20, 2011 at 09:26

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