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Why your deleted files are a hacker's best friend

You've decided to clean out an old file cabinet in your home office so you dump everything in your recycle bin and roll it down to the curb. But what if someone is going through your big blue can before the collection truck picks it up the next morning? Most of us know that we need to shred important documents before they go in the bin.

Are you taking the same precautions when you delete personal files from your computer? Getting rid of digital files may be a lot harder than you thought. Most of us just drag the files to the recycle bin icon and then empty the bin.

Blancco Technology Group did a study that reveals 51 percent of global information technology professionals don't know if that's not enough. In reality, emptying your recycle bin just removes the names of files so that your computer can't locate them anymore. Eventually, the nameless files get overwritten by new data, but until that happens hackers can still access things you thought were gone for good.

Blancco's chief strategy officer, Richard Stiennon, says companies only tend to worry about data removal when they want to replace equipment. He says by dismissing "the importance of erasing active files" they make themselves vulnerable to theft. Only about a third of the people who responded to the survey said that removing data is high up on the IT security priority list.

According to the study, 53 percent of IT pros confuse "deleting" with "erasing." Check out this guide that explains the difference between wiping, shredding, deleting, erasing and resetting. One way to permanently get rid of files is to use software like Zer0.

The good news about this recycle bin misunderstanding is that sometimes you can get things back that you deleted by accident. Check out these file recovery programs.

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