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Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Data Destruction

It was reported in one of the security forums that a Hospital Trust has been fined for a data breach which exposed patient and staff information.

Apparently the computers were taken out of service and given to a company which promises to erase all data before reselling the hardware.  This is carried out free of charge and any monies are realised from the sale of the hardware.

In this instance the hard disks were not wiped and the data was intact when sold on eBay.  On examination it was found that several other computers still contained data.

The Hospital Trust failed to check that the hard disks had been destroyed by shredding as had been promised.

WEEE disposal free of charge can seem attractive, but we urge anyone using this service to witness the hard drive destruction and obtain a certificate of destruction.   There is the temptation by these companies to merely check that the computer works before offering it for sale and not even erasing data in a secure manner.  This maximises the amount of cash realised for the equipment; sadly it does nothing to protect the sensitive data that may be on the equipment.  It was the Trust’s responsibility to check that data was not compromised; hence the fine.

We, at Quality Matters, do not send any computers containing hard drives for disposal.  We remove all hard drives and have these shredded before sending the remaining hardware to a licenced WEEE disposal site.  This does involve some cost but we know that no data can be compromised.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Anti Virus Protection

I am fairly competent with computer systems  so you can imagine how I felt when the main office computer refused to boot up.  I tried 'safe mode', repair disk and all other  methods to get it up and running, but to no avail.

Reluctantly I took the machine to a local repair shop.  I did ask the technician to sign a non disclosure agreement before parting with the machine.

When I went to collect the machine I was astounded to hear that it was a virus that had incapacitated the computer.  This should not have happened as all our machines are installed with a very well-known anti-virus and anti-malware suite.     

The technician explained that the virus had simply turned off our anti virus software and then infected the computer.  No warning was given that AV was not functioning.

I believed our systems were safe and I asked the technician what the virus was and how it had affected the security of our systems;  fortunately none of our sensitive data had been affected and the virus was more infuriating than malicious.

Sensitive and Client data is encrypted using 256-bit AES so is pretty well protected.
A full review of our security systems took place and it was decided that we should install Windows Security Essentials on all our systems; this has a number of advantages;

  1. WSE is subscription free and updates are controlled by Microsoft.
  2. It was WSE, the technician had installed on this computer, which resulted in the virus being detected.
  3. WSE is not as resource hungry as our old anti-virus system.

Naturally our old antivirus and anti-malware was removed.  Two anti-virus systems running at the same time can cause problems.

A full scan of all data systems has been carried out and  our firewall systems have been scanned and  intrusion testing has been carried out.

Our systems are 'fingers crossed' once again very secure.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Car Comfort

I was in Bristol during the early part of June.  You may remember the couple of days when it was remarkably warm.  During my journey I noticed that the car was becoming rather hot.   This is the interior of the car rather than the engine and cooling system. I checked the climate controls and it soon became clear that the cooling part of the system was not working, the vents were blowing warm air.  I had to revert to the old fashioned system and open the window.

This was not the time for air-conditioning failure. 

When I arrived at my hotel I looked for local vehicle air-conditioning companies; my thought was that it could be fixed while I was at my Client's.

Several phone calls later I realised that every a/c engineer was fully booked. However one could fit me in an a couple of weeks' time !!.   The engineer did talk me though the dangers of working on my Honda Hybrid's climate control system.  Apparently there are two things that must be taken into consideration:

  1. The hybrid uses a dual scroll system which is a high voltage three phase compressor; the voltages present can be lethal.
  2. The coolant used in the system must be filled with a special high dielectric oil; using the wrong oil will wreck the whole system.
I waited until I returned home and spoke to my local garage, who are Toyota specialists, they were aware of these drawbacks, as Toyota hybrids use a similar system, and were able to sort out my climate control system.

All I now need is some warm weather to put it to a real test.

Quality Matters

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