The new school year means new friends, new classes, and often a new computer to help get schoolwork done. Mobile computers in particular can also contribute to problems affecting more and more Americans every year: data theft and compromise of personal information.

According to Educational Security Incidents (ESI), a Web site that serves as a repository for reported information security incidents that have occurred at institutions of higher education, an estimated 2.6 million records of information were exposed at universities around the world in 2006 alone. That number includes only incidents that were reported; a vast majority of information compromises go unreported.

“In many institutional settings, especially educational institutions, there is real danger of losing control over personal information,” said Adam Dodge, founder of ESI. “Information such as grades, social security numbers, or even a mother’s maiden can be found on most personal computers. This creates the possibility that a college student might suffer identity theft five, 10, 20 or even 30 years after the initial theft of their information. For this reason, it is important that all of us begin to take personal responsibility for securing our own information.”

There are a number of things the average student or parent can do to protect themselves and their information, according to CBL Data Recovery Technologies Inc., a leading global provider of data recovery services:

— If you will be attending school, or sending your child off to school,
with a computer that’s already been used by your household or
business, make sure you’re not sending off important data as well.
Simply deleting files or formatting the hard drive is not enough.

CBL offers its free “Data Shredder Tool” on its Web site
( that allows users to easily ensure that all
vital data is removed from the computer’s hard drive.

— Protect your computer as you would your keys, wallet or credit card.
Most mobile computers come equipped with a security cable slot; invest
in a cable and use it.

— Keep your laptop out of sight and inconspicuous when not using it.
Invest in a padded bag that also doesn’t shout “Laptop Inside.”

— Invest in computer theft protection software that tracks, locates and
recovers stolen computers.

— Set both boot and log-in passwords to prevent information theft in the
event your computer is stolen. Some mobile computers now use
biometric technology to restrict use to only registered users.

“Keeping data secure at school also applies to the data created by the student,” notes Tim Margeson, General Manager of CBL Data Recovery Technologies Inc. “‘My computer ate my homework’ is not an excuse most professors will accept upon learning that the student spent hours working on a 20-page term paper only to have the hard drive crash upon completion.”

Specialists such as CBL Data Recovery Technologies offer a variety of services to recover data from disasters such as hard drive failures, accidental deletion of files, virus contamination, software corruption and even physical damage from fire or flood. CBL’s 24-hour toll-free hotline lets callers speak to a data recovery specialist to initially diagnose the extent of the damage. Filling out a free online form can start the ball rolling toward CBL’s free data recovery service evaluation and a written quote.

CBL’s data recovery expertise extends to every make, model and manufacturer of computers. CBL engineers work below the operating system level to recover data from systems running Microsoft Windows Vista, XP or older; Unix, including Solaris, HP-UX and AIX; Linux, including Mandriva, Red Hat and Ubuntu; and, the Mac OS. Owners of older PCs, laptops and servers can take comfort in knowing CBL’s data recovery expertise isn’t limited to current brands such as Acer, Apple, Dell, Compaq, HP, Lenovo and Toshiba. CBL’s data recovery services are backed by its “No Data, No Charge” guarantee.