Sunday, June 30, 2013
3 simple ways to delete your data for good
By Kim Komando
Published June 30, 2013
The Kim Komando Show
It's always exciting buying a new computer. You can't wait to set it up and put its power to use. Of course, it often creates a problem: What do you do with your old computer?
You could turn it into a second Internet computer, DVR or a streaming media server. But you're more likely to sell it or give it away to a friend or family member.
That's fine, but you don't want to sell or give away your personal data along with it. Who knows where it might end up!
Unfortunately, you can't just place your sensitive files in the Recycle Bin and then empty it. This doesn't completely delete the files. It just hides them from the operating system until they're overwritten. Anyone with the right tools can recover them.
Now, your friends and family members probably don't have the knowledge or desire to steal this information. However, a hacker or a virus they let on to the system could find it.
So, how do you get rid of your sensitive information for good? I have three ways that will make sure no one is ever able to recover your private data.
I do need to point out that these instructions are for conventional magnetic hard drives. They won't work well for the newer solid-state drives. Those usually have their own built-in programs and systems for wiping information. Check with the drive manufacturer to see what they recommend.
1. Wipe the drive completely
The quickest method of destroying your personal information is destroying all of the drive's data. Formatting the drive can do this.
You can do this manually or just re-install Windows. Windows 8 users can go to PC Settings>>General>>Remove Everything and reinstall Windows. Users of Windows 7 and prior should consult their computer manual for the best way to do it.
Formatting makes a data thief's job tougher, but not impossible. On larger hard drives, there are still big empty spaces where your old data is just sitting around.
To really get rid of it, you want to use a program like Darik's Boot And Nuke. This formats your drive, fills it up with junk information, and formats the drive again. The process repeats several times. That's how the CIA and military wipe their information.
Of course, that leaves you with an empty drive. You'll need to re-install the operating system and programs. You might not have the installation disks anymore, or maybe you don't want the hassle.
2. Delete only your sensitive files
Most of what makes a computer worth having is the software. The previous method wipes it out.
However, there is a way to fully erase personal data while leaving Windows and programs alone. You can do this even if you aren't getting rid of your computer.
Grab a program like Eraser for Windows or Permanent Eraser for Mac. Like Darik's Boot and Nuke, these write over your deleted information multiple times to make sure it's really gone. However, they stick to files you select.
I recommend this method only if you're giving away your computer to someone you know. That way, if you miss something it won't be a catastrophe.
Plus, you'll be saving them the work of re-installing the computer's important programs. You can even load it up with a few essential programs you know they'll need.
3. Destroy the hard drive
Everyone has that moment where you want to smash your computer. Well, this is your chance!
If you don't need your hard drive anymore, physically destroying it is the best way to keep your data from falling into the wrong hands. I would still run the Boot And Nuke program first, however.
Then pull it out of the computer case and go to town. The method doesn't really matter.
Some people use a power drill, belt sander or hammer. I've seen someone use a 20-ton hydraulic press! Just make sure the drive's platters are sufficiently damaged so they never spin again.
Waving a powerful magnet over the platters a few times is a good idea as well. That will really scramble the information. Just keep the magnet away from your current machine!
When you dispose of your hard drive afterwards, make sure you do it in a safe way using this site.
Copyright 2013, WestStar Multimedia Entertainment. All rights reserved.
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2013/06/30/3-simple-ways-to-delete-your-data-for-good/?intcmp=features#ixzz2Xiz4LNcz
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Budget could limit public's access to government documents
By Anthony York, Los Angeles Times
June 18, 2013, 8:07 p.m.
Gov. Brown is ready to sign a budget that would allow local officials to opt out of some provisions of the Public Records Act as a way to save money, drawing protests from California newspapers.
SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown is poised to sign legislation that could reduce the public's access to basic government records that have long been used to scrutinize the actions of elected officials.
The proposal, a late insert into the state budget that lawmakers passed last week, would allow local officials to opt out of parts of the California law that gives citizens access to government documents.
Under that law, officials now must respond to a request for records from a member of the public within 10 days and are required to make the documents available electronically. The change, which Brown requested as a cost-cutting measure, would allow the officials to skip both requirements with a voice vote.
The same vote would permit them to reject requests without explanation and would no longer require them to help citizens identify existing information.
Brown and other defenders of the legislation predict that it would have little effect — that most local governments would choose to abide by the old rules. But the California Newspaper Publishers Assn. called the measure a stealth attack on government transparency and a blow to the public's right to information.
"If the local agencies were predisposed to share information with the public," association lobbyist Jim Ewert said," there wouldn't be a need for a public records act to begin with."
Ewert, who wrote to Brown this week urging him to veto the bill, said the governor's record on open government is spotty. He cited Brown's 2012 decision to temporarily suspend open-meeting laws for local governments and three closed-door or private phone meetings that the governor had with Los Angeles County supervisors to sell his prison overhaul in 2011.
"I wouldn't give him very high marks," Ewert said. "His actions don't demonstrate a strong commitment to government transparency.''
News organizations rely on California's open-records law to help expose information about state and local government that may otherwise remained hidden.
The Times has used the law to find the results of child abuse investigations and the amount of pension money paid to public retirees. Times reporters have also used the law to aid in uncovering questionable spending in public institutions such as the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and in revealing corruption in the city of Bell, where officials paid themselves outsized salaries and imposed illegal taxes on residents.
Bell resident Donna Gannon, 59, worries that changing the law could disable what little civic engagement exists in cities across the state. "Too much is going to be hidden from us," she said. Government officials, she noted, "work for us."
Brown's Department of Finance spokesman, H.D. Palmer, said the proposal maintains the public's right to know what officials are doing. "This does not alter the core provisions of the Public Records Act," he said.
The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office estimates that the measure would save tens of millions of dollars a year because Sacramento would no longer have to reimburse local governments for the cost of providing some records. Cities and counties would assume those costs.
Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, voted to change the law. He said that if any local agency decided not to comply with its provisions, voters could direct their anger at those officials.
"Their own constituents will be aware that it is they who have decided it is not worth their expenditure of their funds,'' Leno said.
The California Public Records Act, which established access to government information as a "fundamental and necessary right of every person in this state," was signed into law by Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1968. In 2000 and 2001, Gov. Gray Davis expanded it.
Los Angeles County in 2002 filed a legal challenge to those new requirements with the Commission on State Mandates, successfully arguing that the new provisions put a financial burden on local governments that should be reimbursed by the state.
Brown's proposal, by making compliance with those provisions optional, would gut key pieces of the law, opponents said. But the measure sailed though both houses of the Legislature during Friday's budget debate with just one Democrat, Leland Yee of San Francisco, voting against it.
Yee, who is running for secretary of state next year, said the measure was "just the latest indication this nation is moving backward in terms of being open and transparent." He said many of his fellow Democrats share the blame for that trend.
"This came from the governor, but it was blessed by the leadership," he said. "I thought that there would be sufficient checks and balances that something like this would not occur."
The measure was tucked into a larger bill on government administration, one of 21 pieces of budget legislation. The 107-page measure directs billions in state spending, creates a new grant program for trauma centers, makes changes to the workers' compensation system and limits tax credits for owners of the Honda Center in Anaheim, among other things.
Brown would have to reject the entire bill if he were to block the open-records proposal, and his administration has indicated that he intends to sign it.
Monday, June 3, 2013
Supreme Court rules police can take DNA swabs from those arrested
Published June 03, 2013
A sharply divided Supreme Court on Monday said police can continue to take DNA from people they arrest without getting a warrant. The court's five-justice majority said DNA testing was a legitimate police arrest procedure, like fingerprinting.
"Taking and analyzing a cheek swab of the arrestee DNA is, like fingerprinting and photographing, a legitimate police booking procedure that is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the court's five-justice majority.
But the four dissenting justices said that the court was allowing a major change in police powers.
"Make no mistake about it: because of today's decision, your DNA can be taken and entered into a national database if you are ever arrested, rightly or wrongly, and for whatever reason," conservative Justice Antonin Scalia said in a sharp dissent which he read aloud in the courtroom.
At least 28 states and the federal government now take DNA swabs after arrests. But a Maryland court was one of the first to say that it was illegal for that state to take Alonzo King's DNA without approval from a judge, saying King had "a sufficiently weighty and reasonable expectation of privacy against warrantless, suspicionless searches."
But the high court's decision reverses that ruling, which will likely allow states to resume and expand the programs. Kennedy wrote the decision, and was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Stephen Breyer. Scalia was joined in his dissent by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.