Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Secrets and confidentiality.

Recently I had a conversation with an old friend, we worked together as chauffeurs many moons ago, the topic of people selling their stories to the papers and computer security came up. Both of us know some details of famous peoples private lives that would be, if not earth shattering, of interest to the papers or certain magazines. There seems to have been a lot of people who have worked for famous people willing to sell their 'story' for money, I could never do that, it seems to me that there is no loyalty or discretion these days.
Now, as you may have gathered, I have a bit of a 'thing' about secrets and confidentiality, there should always be a degree of discretion in whatever you do, if you work for someone you have a duty to be discreet, I sometimes fix computers for people and have a reputation for being 'discreet' about personal photos etc. To be honest as long as it doesn't break the law I'm not interested in what people do in their private lives, but recently I have heard a lot of about 'private' photos being posted on various internet sites. I know of a site that had some pictures from a stolen camera posted on it, the soft porn pictures were removed when a work colleague of the girl in the pictures spotted them on the site.

The classic case is of course Gary Glitter, he took his pc into PC world and they found pictures that were wrong and illegal, they reported it and the rest is history, but that is an extreme case, quite a large majority of people have details and pictures that they would consider private and would not like to see posted on the internet, so why is their security so lax? Most people think having a complex password in windows is enough to deter anyone who wanted to look at the hard drive, it surprises them to see how fast I can get into their laptop or desktop when they have forgotten their password.
The number of people who pass on their old computers without removing the hard drives is ridiculous! The only way to be sure, unless you are an expert like me, that no one will recover your private or deleted data, is to remove and destroy the hard drive. I have recovered drives for people and they are quite surprised when I also recover old data, that they thought had been permanently deleted. Hard drives are so cheap now, it makes sense to replace it with a new one before passing on the computer.
I ws recently given an SD card for a camera, supposedly securely wiped, my friend was most surprised when I told him when he had been to Venice (the dates on the pictures told me when), I recovered his holiday snaps to demonstrate how easy it is to recover the 'destroyed' pictures.

People in the public eye should realise though that some people think that they are fair game, if you are in the media a lot you must be aware that the press would be interested in everything you do, keeping an affair or clandestine meeting away from them is nigh on impossible. Yes they are entitled to a private life, but they must understand that the public has an insatiable thirst for gossip, this makes it difficult for anyone in the public eye to have a normal life.

And the point I'm trying to make? It appears to me that a lot of people would sell out their employers or even their friends for money, so be careful what you do, you never know who is watching or has access to your data and how well do you know the guy in the computer repair shop......

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