A hard delete

Such is the state of technology today that while it is childishly easy to create information, it is almost impossible to wholly destroy it. In November 2010, a 34-year-old financial trader learned this the hard way.

Reading The Wall Street Journal one day, Donald Longueuil discovered that his employer, SAC Capital Markets, was under investigation by the FBI. According to his prosecutors, Longueuil began a painstaking clean-up operation to destroy data contained on a number of hard drives.

Longueuil began by tearing each drive into small pieces using a set of pliers and placing each part into separate bags. Fearing that this was not enough, he allegedly took a late-night run around New York City hunting for individual refuse collection trucks in which to dispose of each hard drive segment.

While this fastidiousness helped him successfully destroy any incriminating data, it did not stop Longueuil from implicating himself on tape when speaking with a colleague, who also happened to be a government informant. Longueuil is now on trial for alleged insider trading.

“When people frantically begin shredding sensitive documents and deleting computer files, and smashing flash drives and chasing garbage trucks at 2am, it is not because they have been operating legitimately,” commented US attorney
Preet Bharara.

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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