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Ask Slashdot: How To Clean Up My Work Computer Before I Leave? 547

An anonymous reader writes "I'm leaving my current job for a new one. I've been at this job for 10+ years so I'm sure there is tons of personal stuff stored on my machine. Since I can't take it with me does any one have a suggestions of tools or practices to clean off all of that data. I've already got my personal documents and files. I'm most worried about CC, debit card numbers and web site passwords I've used in browsers. Does clearing the cache, cookies, temp files do a good enough job? BTW it's a Windows 7 system if that makes a difference."
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Ask Slashdot: How To Clean Up My Work Computer Before I Leave?

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  • by dAzED1 ( 33635 ) on Friday July 27, 2012 @11:40AM (#40791179) Journal
    That's really impressive, actually...

    Easy. Start with not storing personal stuff on a work computer. Next step - assuming you're an admin on your box - create another admin account on the box. Log off your account, log in to that account, delete your profile off the box.

    Why would your CC info be on the box, anyway? Do you really type out your CC number into text files and leave them on your PC? Why?

  • Re:DBAN! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Friday July 27, 2012 @11:42AM (#40791223)

    It's Windows 7. The guy's probably not allowed to install it.

    I keep all my stuff in a "personal" folder so when the time comes for me to leave I just drag the folder to my USB: drive and then delete it from the computer. Technically the IT guys could undelete and recover, but it's doubtful they would. More likely they just reinstall the whole OS for the next guy.

    My browsers are Opera and Chrome portable. When I delete the personal folder, they disappear too. Not that it really matters; the proxy server has a record of every place I've ever visited. (There is no privacy on a work computer.)

  • Re:DBAN! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by war4peace ( 1628283 ) on Friday July 27, 2012 @12:14PM (#40791817)

    I am not worried about erasing/hiding/formatting or anything. When I leave current company, I just shutdown the laptop and hand it over, because I have encryption on it and only I know the password. They will HAVE to delete partitions and reformat anyway.
    Encrypt the damn thing, it's actually good business practice if you have company data on it.

  • Re:dd (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jabuzz ( 182671 ) on Friday July 27, 2012 @12:16PM (#40791845) Homepage

    Better yet a few days or a week or so before you leave do

    dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda skip=512

    That way you leave the partition table and first stage of the boot loader so it will look like the install is busted. You can then ring up IT and say your computer no longer boots and can they fix it. They will then happily reimage the machine :-)

  • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Friday July 27, 2012 @12:35PM (#40792137) Homepage

    Who says there's an "IT department"? It might be three guys in a basement.

    (As per usual, Ask Slashdot has posted an incomplete question...)

  • by Mascot ( 120795 ) on Friday July 27, 2012 @12:46PM (#40792283)

    That would depend on where you live. Where I live and work, my employer isn't even allowed to check my email without a good reason. The same applies to all "personal areas". The hard drive in the computer the company has provided for you, is considered such an area. The assumption here is that there will always be _some_ personal use of a computer an employee sits at all day and often brings home or on trips with them. And a person has a right to privacy that the employer cannot invade without cause.

    On the topic at hand, no place I have ever worked would dream of just handing a computer on to the next one in line without first reinstalling. So the employee wiping it before turning it in would be just fine. Last few jobs I've had, I've Truecrypted my computer (at the start of my employment) and handed it over in that state without any issues.

  • by VolciMaster ( 821873 ) on Friday July 27, 2012 @12:54PM (#40792371) Homepage
    For a Mac or Linux machine, I run a dd from /dev/urandom into a file until it crashes (that way apps are still "ok" .. but a reimage is an option, too).

    For Windows, I either reimage myself, or erase/uninstall everything and then run a simple script to dump 1s into a file till it crashes.

    If you're really worried people are going to be poking around your laptop, don't use it for personal work. It IS a work machine, after all.

    If you "need" to use the work machine for personal work, do it in a VM. You can move the VM off later, and then just overwrite that part of the disk on the host.

  • by icebike ( 68054 ) * on Friday July 27, 2012 @01:01PM (#40792457)

    Forensics has never recovered more than a few random bytes, not so much as a single sentence in real world tests of single pass over-writes.
    Even using electron microscopes and the whole nine yards. The more you research this issue the more you realize all (yes ALL) the stories are based on contrived situations where they researchers knew EXACTLY what was written previously, EXACTLY where, and EXACTLY what it was over written with.

    Even three letter agencies don't even bother trying on disks they know have been overwritten. Nobody has demonstrated it in the real world on ANY hard drive, let alone a recent one.

  • by jmerlin ( 1010641 ) on Friday July 27, 2012 @04:49PM (#40795743)
    When I was doing re-imaging, it was SOP to make a ghost copy of the current drive for backup purposes (this step was only done when we were moving a person to a new computer, so as to keep their data intact, for leaving employees, there was no backup), DBAN the machine, then re-image it with a golden image.

    When we said "re-image" that's what we meant. We had stations set up with like 10 drives attached for DBAN purposes. I always meant to make a little device that could run DBAN that would plug directly into an IDE device (or use an IDE/SATA converter) and DBAN the entire disk by simply plugging in the cable, the power, and hitting the big red button. I could probably sell those. Hold on, brb, getting a patent.

"It ain't over until it's over." -- Casey Stengel