I was very interested to read an article in the Daily Mail about the shenanigans and dishonesty of computer repair shops and firms. A laptop computer was sent to six companies for repair, with very interesting - not to mention infuriating! - results. A few extracts from the article:
Investigators wired a new laptop with hidden cameras and spy software that operated without the engineers' knowledge.
The laptop had been given an easily identifiable fault: a loose memory chip that stopped the computer from starting.
To get it working, the chip simply needed to be popped back into position.
. . .
Shortly after identifying the real fault, the firm's engineer called to say the computer needed a new motherboard, costing £130.
The surveillance software then recorded a technician browsing through the files on the hard drive, including intimate holiday photos, some showing the Sky researcher in her bikini.
As the technician snooped through the files, he was filmed grinning and showing the pictures to another colleague.
Later in the same shop, a second technician loaded up the machine to look through the photos - stored inside a folder marked 'private'.
Laughing, the repairman loaded the pictures onto a memory stick he kept round his neck - which the software found was also packed with similar photos in a folder labelled 'Mamma Jammas' - street slang for women with large breasts.
He also copied a file containing passwords for Facebook, Hotmail, eBay and a NatWest bank account.
Once the technician had discovered this information, he opened a web browser on the laptop and attempted to log into the bank account for five minutes - failing because the details were false.
. . .
Only one shop came out with a clean bill of health. ... The company popped the chip back into place, and for free.
There's much more at the link, including photographs.
Readers, if you send your computer to an outside firm for repair (whether a work or a personal computer), you really should read the whole article. It's pretty sobering stuff. It's certainly confirmed my practice of keeping all my important data on remote hard disks, that I can lock in my safe if my computer needs repair. I also purge my local hard disk of 'mirror' and workspace files on a regular basis, to make sure that no personal information is left on it.