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In many cases, dumpster diving involves getting data about a user in order to impersonate that user and gain access to his or her user profiles or other restricted areas of the Internet or a local network. Dumpster diving can mean looking through physical trash for such information, or searching discarded digital data. In either case, security experts warn users to leave a clean trail to prevent identity theft and avoid other consequences that can stem from a successful dumpster diving operation.
Businesses and other large entities have developed practical ways to discourage dumpster diving, such as shredding paperwork and locking waste bins. Other security measures include the use of firewalls and other precautions to stop dumpster divers from getting access to discarded or loose data, such as ensuring that data is wiped off of old hard drives and destroying old storage media.