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7. Correct. Secrets in the computer require the same protection as secrets on paper. If necessary to prepare classified information on a computer that is kept in a non-secure environment, one must use a removable hard drive or laptop computer that is secured in a safe when not in use.

The reason for this requirement is that much information can be recovered from a computer hard drive even after the file has been deleted or erased by the computer user. When you delete a file, the computer only deletes the "pointer" which allows the computer to find the file on your hard drive. It does not delete the file itself. It is comparable to deleting a chapter from the Table of Contents of a book, but not removing the pages on which the chapter is written. The file remains recoverable on the hard drive until it is overwritten by another file. It is estimated that about a third of the average hard drive contains information that has been "deleted" but is still recoverable.

If it is necessary to carry a laptop computer with classified information, great care must be exercised as laptops are such an attractive and vulnerable target for theft. Over 265,000 laptop computers were stolen in the United States in 1996, and the number of thefts increases every year.

Related Topics: Appropriate Use of Computer Systems, Computer Vulnerabilities.