The Norman Transcript


September 22, 2013

How to properly clean up computers

NORMAN — I am sometimes asked to perform basic computer forensic analysis for customers who want to know if their computers have been used for “illicit” purposes. The results can be revealing, if not downright disturbing.

One customer, the owner of a popular hairdressing salon, needed to know if her employees had recently used a company computer to visit pornographic websites while she was out of the office. Another client, an attorney, wanted to know if a certain machine had been used to download pornography that could have possibly been viewed by children using this “family” computer.

The first job was relatively simple. Even though you can delete the temporary “cache” files of an Internet browser, a history of visited websites is still sometimes retained in a hard-to-remove “.dat” file. A little special processing and fiddling about, and, voila, I had a list of recently accessed websites. Indeed, many were porno websites.

The second job was a bit more difficult, as someone had tried to cover their tracks. There were no clues in any of the normal places. At the very least, someone had “deleted” files and then emptied the “recycle bin.” I was also told that the computers hard drive might have been reformatted in an attempt to “erase” files.

Again, after employing some special and unusual measures, I recovered thousands of hard-core porn pictures from what appeared on the surface to be a “clean” computer. Someone was in big trouble.

Keep privacy in mind before you sell or give away your old computer. A study done by students at MIT, examining 158 used hard drives purchased on eBay, found that 74 percent of the drives contained readable data, even though 36 percent of the drives had been reformatted.

Discovered were emails, medical records, financial data and 3,722 credit card numbers, not including one hard drive that came from an ATM that contained bank account numbers and 2,868 credit card numbers.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Ideal Homes to dedicate Oklahoma’s first Home for HOPE

    Ideal Homes dedicated the company’s first Home for HOPE on Wednesday at 13209 SW 5th in Yukon....

    July 27, 2014

  • Todd Lamb to keynote luncheon

    Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb will provide the keynote address at the Norman Chamber of Commerce’s annual Legislative Lunch at 11:45 a.m. Aug. 6 at the National Weather Center. Lamb will speak on state issues that may impact local business and ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Builders Association of South Central Oklahoma learns about storm water proposal

    The Builders Association of South Central Oklahoma invited Norman Public Works Director Shawn O’Leary to talk about the new storm water fee proposal at its luncheon Thursday....

    July 27, 2014

  • Backing up everything, everywhere, not as easy as it should be

    Though we may wish or believe otherwise, computing devices are still somewhat of a hassle to use. Some devices, like Apple’s iPad, come close to being fully realized machines, but even iPads have their clunky side....

    July 27, 2014

  • Is using E10 or ‘pure’ gasoline more economical?

    An analysis by AAA Oklahoma shows that at today’s prices, E10 motor fuel is cheaper to use than 100 percent gasoline, despite the fewer miles per gallon produced by E10, which is a blend of 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline....

    July 27, 2014

  • Appellate judge retiring

    The Honorable Charles A. Johnson retired from the Court of Criminal Appeals after 25 years on the bench. Johnson was appointed to the court on Oct. 31, 1989, by Gov. Henry Bellmon to fill the unexpired term of Hez J. Bussey. After 59 ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Candy Basket celebrates 25 years

    Perhaps it’s the chocolate covered blueberries whose deliciousness still lingers. Or maybe it’s the blood orange and wild honey white chocolate ganache that won’t soon be forgotten by your taste buds. At The Candy Basket there is decadence ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Bramlett & Associates adopts new name reflective of business

    Bramlett & Associates Multimedia LLC (Bramlett Multimedia), 215 W. Main St., announced this month that the company will change its name after 12 years in business and will do business as BOLD-Multimedia. The announcement, made first to ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Toothpick holders convention coming to Norman

    Lynne Ryan has been collecting toothpick holders her entire life. “My parents, Mr. and Mrs. W.L. ‘Bud’ Gibbs started our collection in 1936,” Ryan said. Ryan was born in 1940, and she grew up crawling around toothpick holders, as have ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Protect your online banking, shopping with encryption

    In my free, one-night class called “Fight the Internet Bad Guys and Win,” I teach everyday computer users how to stay out of trouble on the Internet. How to avoid virus infections, how to discern between the genuine and counterfeit, and ...

    July 20, 2014