Craig continues his explanation about computer repairs and what you can and must do to protect your data and privacy. Back up your data! Also, the proper way to destroy old disks.

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Automated Machine-Generated Transcript:

Craig Peterson: [00:00:00] Do you know, what’s on your computer? Do you know what they do with it? At some of these repair shops that you take your computer when it gets slow and something breaks? When you’re just trying to figure it out? What the heck is happening here, man? We’ve got an eye-opener for you right now.

Hi everybody. Craig Peterson here. Thanks for joining me.

We talked a little bit about what it’s on your computer. You may not remember everything that’s on it. It may just be some malicious stuff a third party has put on there. You might have bank account information. You might have password information. You might have intellectual property on it.

If you are trying to take in a computer, that’s badly broken. You’re in a little bit of a hard spot here because that computer can’t be cleaned up. Can’t be cleaned very well at all. You can be just totally stuck with it and you can remove stuff, right?

Let’s, roll back a little bit before your computer broke. The first thing is what I teach in my cybersecurity mastery course, which is something we call a three, two, one backup.

Make sure you have a data backup.  Three, two, one talks about the number of copies, the different types of media, the different locations to store it. Having a data backup is crucial. I’ve been using Backblaze for a while. I have a Backblaze little partner thing, so I get literally a dollar for referring people. Just so that you know. Note:  If you go to they’ll know I referred you because they won’t.  I use it. It’s six bucks a month and it’ll back up a computer and all of the directly attached hard disks for six bucks a month.

Now my main computer has many, many, many terabytes of data on it. I think it’s. 40 something terabytes and it cost me $6 a month. It is amazing. So check them out online, make sure you got a backup. It needs to be a solid backup, needed to have multiple copies. And this is something that people always forget, test it. Make sure you can restore that backup. This is a really good practice to follow it’s something that is a part of disaster recovery. There are other parts as well.

If you are a public company or you are owned by a public company, the bottom line you have four hours under the law to get back online. It’s only for four hours. What we have done for companies and we could do it for yours too, we go ahead and make sure we have additional hardware on-site in case something goes extremely wrong. That way we can get them up and running in a matter of minutes. In most cases, if they have a major crash, if the building burns to the ground, we can get them up and running in four hours. If that’s what’s needed.

 Of course, that costs a lot more than just doing it mean a Backblaze back up, but that’s okay at the beginning. That’s the start. Make sure you can restore and as always. I go over this a lot in my cybersecurity master course and on the module on backups, make sure you realize how long it will take to restore your backup. It may take weeks to back everything up. In my case, it took months, right? It may take a long time to back everything up.

How long is it going to take to restore?  Does that data backup company have an offer where they will go ahead and either restore your data to a hard drive that you can then hook up to your new computer and copy everything over that’s fast? Some may even overnight that drive to you or will they take them back up and put it onto a brand new machine. That’s what we do for our customers so they have it. It’s not a disaster.

They have a computer that isn’t working anymore. It’s just totaled time for a new one. We’ll go ahead and restore it, new machine, and then install that machine for them or send it to them, depending on who they are.

That is ultimately highly important. So make sure that happens before it’s time to take your computer to a repair shop. Because you never know that repair shop while they’re trying to fix your computer may just toast it, or maybe already toast in this case. Meaning. It is no good anymore.

So that’s number one before anything. Okay.

So if your hard disk just toasts out on you and you need to take that computer now to a repair shop to get a new hard disk in it, make sure that you remove the hard disk first. Then take it in say, yeah, my hard disk is toast. You’re going to need to start from scratch.

Now you’re going to need to have your windows license for them. If it’s a Windows computer, if it’s a Mac, it just is going to work, right?  The Macintosh, I’ll go ahead and do a network install, or if they know what they’re doing, they can do a local install of all that Mac software, as well, to a new disk.

In this day and age, of course, the recommendation is don’t use spinning media disk. Use an SSD. There are a number of different types of SSDs and the cheap ones fall apart quickly because you can only write to them so many times. The pricing has gotten a lot better for consumers.

You might have heard this week, Intel got out of the flash memory business because there just isn’t the margin in it anymore. So shop around a little bit, make sure you got the best price on that.

So there you go. Number one. Good backup.

 Number two, make sure that if your disk fails, you remove it. Because you cannot do the next step, which is okay.

Make sure you remove any personal data from the computer or make sure it’s encrypted.

Now, what we do because customers are regulated. If a disk is bad, we remove the disk, we break it down and we have a special furnace that we can melt those disks. Most of the platters are aluminum nowadays. There are also glass platters, but we will melt them down at extremely high temperatures and then certify that yes, indeed it is now a slag of aluminum and has been completely destroyed. That’s the only way that you can meet the federal regulations if you are one of those types of companies.

 If you are someone that’s just a small, basic company, you’re worried, but you’re not worried about China getting at it or somebody else. Right. A real bad actor. Then what you need to do is get a half-inch drill bit and make three holes. Holes in that hard disk right around the little circle. You’ll see a circle in that hard disk. That’s usually where the spinning media is. That’s usually the central bearing. So go out an inch or two. Probably a couple of inches from that bearing and drill all the way through that will destroy the data on there. So that will help to protect your intellectual property. If you want to do it the best way, it is to melt that disk down and that’s what we do for our clients as well.

Okay. So back to if the disk is still working no matter how trustworthy you think that this business is you took the computer too, is there’s always a chance. There’s a bad egg amongst all of the staff members there. So delete it, remove it. Again, hopefully, you have a backup. Hopefully, that backup is tested.

You can restore it afterward if your disk is encrypted and that can be true on Windows or on a Mac. There are a few different ways to do this, then.

Remember that they’re going to have to boot that computer. And that may mean almost certainly mean that they’re going to have to, if they, to do an end to end check boot from the disk that media that’s in it.

What we tend to do is we booted off of a USB drive so that we don’t have to have the decryption password for the hard disks. That way there’s no temptation, right? None of my techs have that temptation because they can’t get at the data anyways. 

Make sure again, boot encryptions turned on.

Stick around. We’ll be back. We’ve got a couple more things to cover here. This is all spawned by Hunter Biden and his computer that he dropped off at the repair shop.

If you sign that little contract, in 90 days, the computer and everything on it is theirs.

Stick around.

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