Digital pack rat: You probably have a backed-up copy of your old 256 MB hard drive, don't you? Licensed from Stock Exchange.

This is the fifth post in a series about data breaches you can prevent. We’ve covered Phones and Personal Computing Devices , Your Browser, and Your Inbox, and Your Thumb and External Drives. Next we’ll discuss Your Old Windows 95 Computer.

Technology has made it easier than ever to be a digital pack rat. Cheap and plentiful memory probably means that you have backed-up a copy of your old 256 MB hard drive, which you also have stashed somewhere in your basement. Before blindly making back-up copies of old hard drives, make sure that you first delete any information you don’t want to save.


I see this problem haunt people across the country. Once a week a university professor somewhere in the United States copies an archived copy of an old hard drive to a web server, without realizing that the hard drive contained social security numbers of students who graduated a decade earlier. Within weeks those social security numbers can be available to the world via Google.

If you’re a digital pack rat, make sure you scan those old hard drives for sensitive personal information before making backups. Your old hard drive is one of the biggest sources of preventable data breaches you’ll never hear about.

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