Cybersecurity...New Device, Old Problems
New Devices, Old Problems
by Charles Parker, II
Technology is a wonderful thing. This has advanced our society, way of life, and enjoyment in so many
fields. As a simple example, look at cinema and the movies. Could the current level of CGI be done 15
years ago? Of course not. Also, the form factor for laptops have decreased while the processing power
has increased substantially.
With consumers and businesses, the technological advances have increased our demand for new
products. This could take the form of watches, fitness trackers, laptops, tablets, or anything with a
processor. The replacement of the old technology creates e-waste, requiring recycling.
While this is important there are also risks with this. The information left on these within the hard drives
is substantial. Think through the files you have on your hard drive used for personal uses, and all the
critical/private information these hold. The files may be photos of your family, tax returns, bank
statements, your will or passport, driver’s license, medical information, just to start. If you are a remote
worker there may also be work data and documents.
When you replace the old equipment, you need to be sensitive as to this private information. With this
in hand, it would be easy enough to work towards identity theft. To mitigate this, you need to sanitize
the prior equipment.
The first action item is to back up any information that is important to you. This could be the photos,
your resume, or any data you would really miss if you no longer had access to it. This may be done on an
external drive, or cloud storage.
If you are logged into any accounts, and had not properly logged out, please do so. This may be email
accounts, ride hailing apps, or streaming services. You probably don’t want to share this access or
You may have software or services on the laptop. With the new device, you may be able to transfer the
software license or service to the new device. This will save you money and the time of re-signing up for
these (e.g., AV).
If the device has a SIM or SD card, remove it. There may be documents or other information here you
shouldn’t share. This only takes a moment.
Now that you have your important data and information from the equipment, erase the hard drive. To
accomplish this, you can do a factory reset.
Lastly, wipe the disk. Granted the factory reset should be fine and work for some people, if you have any
concerns, us an app and wipe the drive. Two options for this are Disk Wipe and Active Kill Disk. At this
point you are safe to manually destroy the drive. The simplest way is to forcibly apply a hammer to the
drive. Remember to wear goggles and gloves.