Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

How safe is your data? How safe is SA’s digital information? With the City of Johannesburg and banking sector both having come under ransom attacks and possible hacking, cyber threats and security are in the spotlight.

Listen here:

In this edition of Business Day Spotlight, our focus is on protecting data stored on simple hard drives and computers from intrusion or unwelcome access.

Our host, Mudiwa Gavaza, is joined by Bridgette Vermaak, information technology asset disposal (ITAD) manager for Xperien, a Johannesburg-based ITAD company.

Data breaches have become synonymous with internet hacking in recent years but Vermaak says the simple act of not effectively deleting data on a computer or hard drive is a major point of vulnerability for many individuals and organisations 

Xperien has warned that 42% of hard drives purchased on second-hand online platforms such as eBay still contain sensitive data and 15% hold personal information on them, from financial records to birth certificates, passport numbers and photos. This is according to a study from On Track and the Blancco Technology Group.

The first part of the discussion looks at the economics of data breaches and how these have become like the oil spills of the 21st century. Vermaak explains that simply pressing “delete” or “erase” on a computer does not mean the data is indeed gone. This could prove to be a big issue for companies that get rid of old computers, only for sensitive data to be retrieved by unscrupulous characters.

Cities such as Johannesburg have syndicates of people looking to find valuable corporate information that they can then exploit to hack into an organisation or hold for ransom, says Vermaak.

In the second half, the discussion turns to how to effectively get rid of data from hard drives and computers. Vermaak gives a guide on how to make sure that data is truly erased and how their software works to achieve this.

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Business Day Spotlight is a MultimediaLIVE production