Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Stephen Fry, Derek Trotter and the Car Boot Sale



I like watching QI with the inestimable Stephen Fry in charge. If ever there was a national treasure other than Alan Bennett, he is one. His portrayal of Jeeves is one of those things I could watch time and time again without it ever losing its charm and humour. And QI itself is a fantastic program in my humble opinion, exploding myths every week and teaching its audience something whilst making them laugh.

But in the last series there was an amazing episode which showed how hard it is to keep up to date. Mr Fry revealed in the K series that facts decay, and that a large percentage of the ‘facts’ they have revealed have since been proved to be untrue.

One of those incidentally was that you cannot prevent data from being recovered from a computer hard disk. Fry said this on an earlier series of QI but this is one of the things that have moved on since the QI elves did their research.

The software we use (Tabernus) is certified to CESG Infosec 5, which is good enough for GCHQ by all accounts. There is no known way to retrieve data wiped to these standards. The Russians can’t do it. The Chinese can’t do it. The Yanks can’t do it. So actually Alan Davies was right after all, he will be getting those points back sometime in the future.

This is clever stuff, all ones and zeroes. Much better than shredding hard drives. And although it takes a while to run the software it is the best way. It costs about £5. Not much really. As I say it takes a good few hours to run, but our Ben can do quite a few at the same time. It is rather like juggling plates with a lot less smashing.

I went to a car boot sale on Sunday. My boy’s football match was rained off and we fancied some fresh air (and a bacon butty if I am honest). Right in the middle of the usual assortment of junk and knick knacks was a guy selling used IT equipment. This was not someone getting rid of his own gear either, because he had 4 or 5 desktops, at least 2 laptops and some printers. So I investigated and got into conversation with Del-Boy. He was ‘selling for a friend’ and yes, all the hard disks had been wiped, he assured me. How I asked? Del-Boy cheerfully explained that he had deleted every file and then emptied the bin, job done. Kushty as Mr Trotter might say.

I did not buy one. I was tempted to do so and see what Ben could find on the hard drive, but he was looking for cash and I was pot less as they say in Peckham. But I was stunned by the ignorance and apathy. He did not know you see. He did not have a Scooby Doo. Like Del and Rodney selling lockable briefcases without the combinations he thought he had done enough just by hitting delete.

Every business has some sort of security. They lock the doors and padlock the gates. They have alarms and key holders and they make sure the cash is banked. They have passwords for their PC’s and they pay for virus protection and all that jazz. But when they upgrade their computer they let Derek Trotter take care of it for them?

In short, they protect the contents of their vans, but they throw their whole business out to the first plonker who offers them a cheap solution.

I find that truly amazing...even Quite Interesting.