Claude Bookout is President of United Investigations International, a private investigations firm located in Austin, Texas. ( Texas license number: C9472

Blog updated monthly.

United International Investigations is an experienced private investigations firm with a reputation for integrity, dependability, and thoroughness. The firm provides its clients with a broad range of investigative assistance. Corporations, law firms, and prominent individuals have relied on its professional team of investigators to obtain power and control over their particular situations.

Spring cleaning your digital devices

Individuals and businesses now likely possess several electronic and digital data devices, including, but not limited to, netbooks, computers, and smart phones. Just as we noted in a previous blog about identity theft, one should be concerned with how to dispose of these devices properly, especially as their life cycles seem to be shortening . Not only does proper disposal help protect the environment, but more importantly, it helps protect your personal and business information. 

We recommend that you always dispose of your electronic devices following the guidelines of your local waste management company and by following city ordinances. The best solution is to donate your devices to a local school, church, training center, or marginalized family who need the the device. Regardless of your disposal method, we'd like to provide you with some tips to mitigate identity theft. 

#1: Before surrendering your device, remove  the hard drive or SIM card.

The best way to protect all of your personal data is to never hand over any drive that may contain data. This, of course, is not always practical. You still need to dispose of the hard drive and for a donation, this renders the product unusable. For disposal, simply hammer or drill through the hard drive or SIM card so that it no longer functional. When transferring computers, however, physically destroying the hard drive renders the product useless. Therefore, we recommend doing the following before transferring the unit.

#2:  Scrub the hard drive (frequently) with drive cleaner software (e.g., CCleaner )

To maintain a clean hard drive on computers you actively use on a daily basis, you need to be sure deleted information is no longer available. Before transferring the hardware, run a program like cyberCide that writes over data multiple times. To protect yourself on a daily basis, it is recommended that when deleting files you use a drive cleaner software (e.g, CCleaner) or the ‘secure empty trash’ feature with a Macintosh operating system. You can find directions for permanently removing personal information from a cell phone before you donate, exchange, sell or recycle at Recellular. Remember to run these programs to clean your data drives before donation. For added security when disposing, you can use these suggest programs before following method number 1 above.

Please note that solid sate memory drives, such as "flash drives," external hard drives, and phone media in iPhones, are much more difficult to erase. It is recommended, therefore, that in almost all circumstances the device be transferred to a well-trusted person. However, the best way to dispose of these items is to physically destroy the circuit board or trade the device with a trade-in program (e.g., Target Stores' program).

We are always willing to work with you to craft a comprehensive security risk program for your family or business. If you would like to speak with one of our investigators, please call us today for a free, initial telephone consultation