Skip main navigation

What is Dumpster Diving?

In this video, you will learn about dumpster diving.
In this video, we’re talking about dumpster diving. Now, what is dumpster diving? Dumpster diving is essentially the act of going through a trash can or a dumpster looking for information. The information could be anything. It could be on paper, it could be CDs, DVDs, or other storage media, such as USB drives or old hard drives. Information can also be old electronics, such things as old tape recorders or whatnot. Pretty much anything that has any information on it. Now, it might seem weird going through a garbage can, but think about what we throw away every day, especially at different corporations.
A lot of times people throw away old passwords that might be on a piece of paper, old work orders, old billing information. That billing information could contain certain names, names of important people, people in financing, HR potentially. It could be old usernames, account passwords, email addresses, schematics for electronics, even schematics for a network. Now, a malicious hacker or an attacker can find a wealth of information from this stuff simply by going through what people throw away. Things that people don’t even realise are important. So how exposed is your dumpster? Well, one thing that people will often do if they’re going to go dumpster diving is use such services as Google Maps, Google Street View, Bing, and whatnot.
With these high-resolution street views and satellite views, a person could actually just put down an address for a building, do a Street View to see where the dumpsters are, see if they’re locked up, see if they’re exposed, how many there are, and potentially when they get picked up, and if there’s any security cameras or lights around the area. So how do we prevent this? First of all, if you have a dumpster or trash can, it should be locked up. Everything should be secure, either behind a locked gate or the dumpster itself should have a lock on it. Sensitive paper items should be shredded or disposed of in a locked, secured shredder.
There’s certain companies that will provide a lock and bin that you put your paper into, and they’ll go ahead and destroy it. Old storage should be properly destroyed or disposed of in a secure recycle bin; things like hard drives, and to some degree, even the memory in our computers. A person might be able to pull sensitive information from that, so that stuff should be properly stored and destroyed when it’s done with. It’s also important to have a good policy in place– policy that dictates what constitutes that sensitive information and what needs to go into a secure disposal. Having that policy in place is going to be key. And sharing that information with their employees is going to be important.
And for home users, think about what you’re throwing away. Again, things with your name, your address, even tracking information for packages. Is your bank information on there? Is there other information that might potentially expose you? That stuff should go into a paper shredder. And for a paper shredder, the regular straight cut is not a good idea. There’s a lot of software out there and other places that will actually try to reconstruct it. Get one that actually does either a crosscut or a diamond cut, and properly destroy those documents. So this was all about dumpster diving– how to secure it, why it’s important, and why it’s important to make sure that we properly dispose of sensitive information. Thank you for watching.
In the next video, we’ll be taking a look at securing your computer. Thanks for watching. I’ll see you in the next video.

In this video, you will learn about dumpster diving. Dumpster diving is the act of going through trash or a dumpster to get information.

To help prevent dumpster diving, you can do one or more of the following:

  • secure your trash with a lock
  • shred sensitive paper items properly
  • destroy or dispose of old storage media in a secured recycle bin
  • implement a secure disposal policy

Reflect and share: Now that you have learned about dumpster diving, reflect on how exposed your dumpster is. What kinds of information do you throw into the trash?

This article is from the free online

Cyber Security Foundations: Why Cyber Security is Important

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now