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Sanitize Your Flash Drive

May 22, 2009

Ever thought about what really happens to your files after you empty your recycle bin? Are they really deleted forever? What about a flash drive that once held sensitive customer/member information? Would you believe us that any data stored to that flash drive could potentially be recovered?

Doing a quick search on the Internet one can find a plethora of tools used to recover “deleted” data. But how do most of them work? When a file is deleted it is not actually removed from your storage device (e.g., hard drive, flash drive, memory stick, etc). The pointer or reference, the way your computer knows how to find the file, is removed. All the data of that file remains in the spot it was last saved to until a new piece of data replaces it. Data retrieval tools scan a storage device and piece together all of the files located on the device.

Flash drives are convenient and small, some indestructible, most easy to use and, unfortunately, very easy to misplace. For this reason, we highly recommend sanitizing these drives on a regular basis, and if possible, after every use.

Data sanitization is the process of overwriting a drive so that the data once stored on it will no longer be recoverable. Free tools such as Heidi Eraser are easy to use and well worth your time. Eraser is an advanced security tool for Windows that uses a method defined by the US Department of Defense to overwrite a drive with 7 passes of pseudorandom data. A device that has been sanitized has no usable residual data and even advanced forensic tools shouldn’t ever be able to recover your erased data.

Our goal at TrustCC is to offer you useable tools to protect your sensitive information. If you have any questions about Eraser or any other topics related to securing your sensitive information please contact us.

-TrustCC

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