Make Sure you Don’t Give Away Confidential Information with Your Old PC

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Image via Flickr creative commons from Razor 512

Making sure you recycle a computer, or any other electrical device, correctly is becoming more and more important. A typical laptop will include harmful components, such as mercury, lead, chromium and other heavy metals. If these end up in a landfill, they have the potential to contaminate the land and water around them.

Recycling is important and can help those who are less fortunate, by giving them access to a PC and potentially the internet. If this is the case, you need to make sure your device is completely wiped of personal data – this can be achieved by procedures such as Computer Disposal’s data destruction process.

Even if you do not intend to send your laptop onto someone else, it still needs to be wiped. It can be picked up by anyone once it has been thrown in a skip and they can harvest it for information to be used against you.

You need to be aware that deleting everything does not clear your hard drive. The same applies for formatting so you need to take a few further steps to make sure the laptop is completely blank. A real wipe of the hard drive requires special software.

In 2003, two students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology bought 158 used hard disks from eBay – from those, the discovered 5,000 credit card numbers, personal and corporate financial records, medical records and emails. Only twelve of the drives had been properly wiped.

The best thing you can do to avoid this is to invest in a proper disk-wiping programme or get a professional to do it for you. If you are going to do it manually, the first thing you need to do is back up all the files you want to keep; once you have finished there will be no chance of getting them back otherwise.

Next, you need to download a free data destruction programme or shredder. There are a number of ways to do this without such a programme, but these tend to take much of the hassle out of data destruction.

Then you need to burn the ISO file onto a disk before wiping the device as per the instructions of your programme.

If you are performing a manual clean up, there are going to be certain things you want to keep and an order through which to delete items and folders. Start the process with your personal folders and files. This should be followed by web settings and internet browsing history. Then, make sure you get rid of all emails. This is particularly important as you may think getting rid of stored bank information such as credit card numbers finishes with your web browsing – you may find out that you have detailed these in a past email.

Remember, when you wipe a hard drive the programmes you need to use and the specific processes will depend on your operating system. The method will be different between Windows 7, Windows 8 and XP, for instance. Make sure you research this thoroughly.

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Protecting your Android device from malware

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Image via Flickr creative commons from greyweed

If you’re a seasoned computer nerd, then you’ll no doubt have encountered viruses and malware in the past. Malware can destabilise or even disable your computer, tablet or smartphone device – so you need to be on your guard against it. What’s more, malware can also be used to allow hackers to gain access to your device, thereby helping themselves to your sensitive personal information. Ensuring that all your computers, laptops and mobile devices are as secure as possible should be a basic obligation for every user, but it can seem a little bit confusing at first for those of us who aren’t experts on the subject. Once you’ve bought a new Android device – along with all the other accessories you’ll need, such as theSnugg nexus 7 cases– the first thing you need to do is work out how you’re going to keep it safe from malware.

An article from Gizmodo offers a number of useful hints and tips when it comes to protecting your Android device from malware. It notes, first of all, that Android is somewhat more susceptible to malware than iOS, although some basic common sense should enable you to protect your device from malware. Setting a lock screen is worthwhile to begin with. It is worth noting that this won’t render your device completely secure – it isn’t impenetrable – but it will offer you some protection against casual attacks. You should have a number of lock screen options – including password, PIN, pattern and face unlock – and while setting a password may involve the most fiddling around, it’s also the most secure.

Secondly, you should also take a look to find out more about the range of anti-malware programs out there for you to choose from. You should find quite a few anti-virus programs for Android, and installing one of these can provide you with additional protection from malware. Many of these anti-malware programs are available completely free of charge, so it’s worth taking a look online to find out more about what they’ve got to offer. Check a few reviews first to find out more about which one is likely to offer you the most protection.

Cacheing passwords may save you a few seconds when you’re browsing email and other accounts via your Android device – it’s particularly handy for those of us who seem to have a million and one different passwords and struggle to remember any of them – but it’s also ideal for anyone who happens to steal your phone, as they can access your personal data with minimum hassle. Check your browser’s settings to ensure that it doesn’t automatically save passwords without you realising.

An article from eWeek also offers some pointers when it comes to maximising Android security. It suggests that you may be better off sticking to websites you know you can trust and steering clear of those whose security credentials you can’t be sure about. Furthermore, it also points out that you should keep up with the latest Android security news, so you know which malware to look out for and how you can protect yourself from it.