Those Old Hard Drives
A great deal of effort has been spent by companies in recent years to stem the leakage of data from their systems, or the risk of it. Much of the risk has come from the variety of hardware now connected in one way or another to the corproate systems. This includes a plethora of laptops and the stories of lost laptops containing sensitive data are legion. There is another aspect to laptops that does not get quite as much attention. That is the fact that they are retired from corporate use with increasing frequency, largely because of the decline in pricing and the increase in power of the newer units.
When laptops are retired, they are sometimes simply sold or given away to employees or even to outsiders. When this happens, a responsible IT department will take proper steps to make sure that sensitive data is removed before the old computer is retired. Here is where the problem can arise.
Simply erasing files will not get rid of them. Pretty well every IT person and many, if not most, non-IT people know this. Even reformatting the drives will not necessarily get rid of the data. The safest way to obliterate data is by having the drive degaussed. This is an old technique going back to mainframe days, which involves making use of a special magnet to erase the drive by changing the electronic fields that hold the data. It is a time tested and the most effective way to make sure that computers do not retain any data. It is a necessary component of the processs that should be followed in retiring computers from corproate service. For some more information, check out this article.