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How to Securely Erase Private Data

Contents

Crucial Steps You Need To Take Before Typical After-Work Erasing With Eraser

CAUTION: Reading the following steps carelessly could cause you to disable your system and / or lose data you want to keep. So be sure to read them carefully.

Previous Step: Encrypt or Erase Private RSS Feeds and/or Podcasts

Encrypt PIEs or Erase Them, Then Disable Local Shared Objects

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WARNING: Like cookies, PIEs (persistent identification elements), also known as local shared objects (LOS) and Flash cookies stored by Adobe's Flash Player when viewing a Flash file, collect ''data that may include not only user-tracking information but any personal data that [you enter] in any Flash-based application, whether it be stand-alone or Web-based.'' - Wikipedia

They also may be programmed to restore deleted and even securely erased cookies.

Caution: Clearing all of my PIEs with Adobe's Web-based Settings Manager left two PIEs behind. I recommend either encrypting your Windows partition (fairly secure) or your whole hard drive (more secure) or erasing the contents of the #SharedObject folder instead.

About PIEs and Their Privacy Risks

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How to Erase and Disable Local Shared Objects

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  1. Left-click on My Computer and go to the following location...
    • In Windows XP:
    • C:\Documents and Settings\UN\Application Data\Adobe\Flash Player\#SharedObject
    • In Windows Vista:
    • C:\Users\UN\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Flash Player\#SharedObject
    • (older versions of Flash Player are located in the Macromedia folder instead of the Adobe folder)
  2. Right-click on the subfolder or subfolders (NAME) in the #SharedObject folder and select Erase, then Yes.
  3. Disable Third-Party Local Shared Objects

Encrypt Chat Archives or Erase Them, Then Disable Archiving

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WARNING: Setting your instant messenger to log, save, or archive your sensitive, private chat conversations, leaves them vulnerable to those determined to view them, even if saved in encrypted form, if a key logger is installed on your system. And even if you don't log them, a key logger can.

To be safe, never set your instant messenger to log your sensitive, private conversations. If your instant messenger is set by default to log them, and it allows you to disable that function, disable it. Or, if you must log them, save them in encrypted form with strong encryption.

Otherwise, if you have logged your private conversations, be sure to erase them with secure erasing / wiping / shredding software. And check often for spyware, including software and hardware key loggers, which save and transmit your conversations.

Detect and remove software key loggers and other spyware with SpyCop (commercial - highly recommended). Or, if you want to do it for free, try using System Safety Monitor and / or Process Guard (not recommended).

Encrypt Find Fast and Private Hidden Information in Microsoft Word Documents or Remove Them

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WARNING: ''Word documents contain hidden information that can provide clues to your identity and the identity of people to whom you e-mailed a file using Outlook. Word 97 goes so far as to retain logs of the last ten people who revised your document, often with easily extractable e-mail addresses. Unrevised versions of your text may also be hidden in your files.'' - PC Magazine

WARNING: ''Microsoft Word's Find Fast scans and indexes every file it can read on your hard drive! If you have ever had problems with scandisk or defrag restarting, it's because Find Fast was indexing your hard drive in the background. It loads every time you start your computer up and is constantly scanning and indexing your hard drive.'' - The Riddler

The Riddler's Way to Remove Find Fast

You can remove Find Fast using your Office CD, but The Riddler recommends doing it manually.

  1. Reboot your computer in DOS Mode.
  2. Delete the FindFast.CPL file from c:\windows\system\
  3. Delete the shortcut (.lnk) under c:\windows\start menu\programs\startup\
  4. Delete the FindFast.EXE file from c:\progra~1\micros~1\office\
  5. [Find and securely erase] the Find Fast databases (c:\ff*.*).
  6. You can also safely delete FFNT.exe, FFSetup.dll, FFService.dll, and FFast_bb.dll if you have them.

Secure Erasing Guide


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