From the Windows XP Frying Pan Into the Fire

by Heather Fitzanko
Confidential Security Corp.

What will you do with your old PCs?

After a dozen years, Microsoft support for the Windows XP operating system ended on April 8, 2014. That means there will be no more security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options, or online technical support for this popular operating system.

Consequently, any vulnerability that is discovered in the future will not be addressed by Microsoft. Yet millions of XP systems are still being used by businesses and consumers alike. These systems are exposed to great risk that will only continue to grow, week after week.

Due to the potential risks, XP users are recommended to upgrade to newer versions of Windows. If the computer itself is not worth upgrading, many will opt to purchase new computers. Here is where my warning comes in.

Computer hard drives contain an immense amount of information. If consumers are not educated on the risks of improper disposal of their existing equipment, they could open themselves up to breaches and information theft. The most common disposal options include:

  • Tossing it in the dumpster. The number-one source for identity thieves to obtain information is through access to physical material: items that have been lost, stolen or disposed of. If that is not reason enough, you probably don’t care that the Illinois EPA has made it illegal to throw electronics in the garbage.
  • Donating it. Donating to a not-for-profit organization feels great—and it’s free. However, just like the option above, if identity thieves get their hands on these hard drives, they can access the information left behind.
  • Recycling it. This option has the same risks of donation. There is no guarantee the information on the hard drive will be overwritten or destroyed. In addition, wiping data on hard drives can prove useless without testing the results. Every hard drive has imperfections that can prevent programs for wiping from being successful.

So, what will you do with your old PCs? The best way to ensure there is no information that could be retrieved by identity thieves is to use a company certified for secure destruction. The National Association for Information Destruction certifies processes for both wiping and physical destruction of hard drives. Employing a company certified by NAID ensures that your hard drive will be physically left in shreds, and any confidential materiali will be absolutely destroyed. And that means that you won’t be jumping from the XP frying pan into the fire of improperly disposed of hard drives. iBi

For nearly 30 years, AAA Certified Confidential Security Corp. has been a trusted supplier for secure information disposal. To learn more about physical hard drive destruction, visit