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A True Story – Part 2

A couple of months ago, Winnipeg was home to it’s semi-annual “Giveaway Weekend.” A brainchild of someone in our municipal offices, its been touted as a way of keeping stuff out of our landfill and in someone else’s garage.

I was driving home that weekend, and spotted a computer by the side of the road. I drove by it, thinking to myself, “What are the chances, that the people left the hard drive inside?” Curiosity got the better of me, as I slammed on the brakes, reversed, parked the car and scooped up the PC. I got it home, cracked the case and sure enough, there for my data recovery pleasure, was the hard drive.

I took it to work and gave it to our student interns to play with. Every year we help the Winnipeg Technical College by taking 1 or 2 co-op students from their network systems administration program in for up to 8 weeks. They learn what its like working inside a computer and network service organization, while we get to see if they would be a good fit for our company. An amazing program, run for the last while by a gentleman by the name of Randy Hirose.

Their task was simple – try to find as many pictures, files and personal information as they could. Within a few hours using an off the shelf data recovery program, they had recovered hundreds of pictures, files and personal (and private) information. They handed me a sheet of paper with some names that they found inside. I looked down at the paper. I recognized the name!

I didn’t happen to know the lady, but I knew her brother. Long story short, I was driving home late one night, a few weeks later and spotted the lady cutting her lawn. After a slight awkward moment (“Hi there. You don’t know me, but I know you…”), I introduced myself and then went on to explain that I had been the one to pick up their computer during the “Free Weekend” and then find private information on the hard drive that was inside it. The lady was shocked to say the least, but thankful that it had been me and not someone with a more malevolent disposition. I promised to dispose of the drive properly, while she promised to “pass the word” on about “old computers”.

Recently, a story in the Financial Post opened my eyes about the breadth and scope of online robberies using malware. The story details how some brave Americans have fought with small banks across the USA to bring some of the responsibility for cybercrime BACK to the banks themselves. An amazing story that should be read by EVERYONE that has a bank account, this one has got me to thinking – what is our Canadian Banks’ stance on cybercrime? Fodder for another story, methinks.

The morale of the story? If you have a computer that needs to be properly disposed of, call us. We can make sure that whatever data you have on their is properly backed up. And once it is backed up, we can make whatever data that is on that drive – disappear so NO one can get it back.

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