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How to Securely Erase Private Data

Here's what I recommend doing in Windows Vista or XP Professional to set up Heidi Computers Ltd.'s Eraser to securely erase your private data, and how to go about doing that every time after working or going online on your computer:

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.

Secure Windows and Your Data

WARNING:

  1. Using Windows Vista with User Account Control (UAC) and Data Execution Prevention (DEP) disabled, and without a CPU (the main computer chip) that supports DEP and virtualization, leaves your operating system vulnerable to corruption and control and your data to theft by malware and web sites set up for such purposes.
  2. If you use Windows 95, 98, Me or XP, your hard drive most likely has malware (viruses, trojan horses or trojans, worms, rootkits, keyloggers and spyware) and adware on it - including cookies and PIEs (persistent identification elements) - that are collecting data about your computing habits with (some adware) or without (malware and some adware) your permission.
  3. Windows XP's default settings were configured for ease of use and connectivity, not security, and Service Pack 2 only changes a few of those settings, unfortunately, so even with SP2 installed, Windows XP is still very unsecure and vulnerable to attack.
  4. If you use Windows Me or XP, using your default account, which unfortunately is your administrator account, for everyday use, especially going online, leaves your private data vulnerable to those determined to view them.
  5. If your sensitive data - e-mail, Temporary Internet Files, page file, etc. - aren't encrypted, they're accessible to prying eyes.
  6. More and more sensitive, private, personal data and money are being stolen or conned / defrauded out of people and businesses for personal or business gain from or through their laptop or notebook computers, cell phones, PDAs and other handheld devices and wireless keyboards and networks.

If you want your computer and data to be sufficiently secure, first either:

  1. use a GNU/Linux Live CD or DVD on a read-only CD-R or DVD-R with your private data on an encrypted removable medium such as a USB drive (most secure option);
  2. use a virtual operating system in a secured operating system;
  3. install and use an alternative operating system (alternative to Windows) and secure it;
  4. use Windows on a USB drive - a ''PC on a stick'' - with MojoPac (commercial - creates a standalone Windows installation that runs from a USB flash drive or iPod - requires a Windows XP CD and administrative access) or...
  5. reconfigure the default settings of Windows' files, folders, registry, software and services.

Then encrypt your operating system (if you're not using a GNU/Linux Live CD or DVD or a virtual operating system in a secured operating system) and data, remove all malware and adware, switch to a wired or USB wireless keyboard if yours isn't either one, and secure your laptop and / or wireless router / firewall, cell phone, PDA or other handheld device, if it's possible and you have one.

How to Make Windows and Your Data Sufficiently Secure

Secure Erasing Guide


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