Cybersecurity and IT Equipment Disposal
Cybernews recently posted an article with a sinister twist that could directly affect you. It details the life of a young man in New Jersey named Jeremy. He collected discarded computers from the trash and use these scraps to build refurbished machines. This seemingly feel-good story about an ingenious entrepreneur takes a startling twist. As Jeremy was sorting through these disposed of machines, he found that almost every one still contained its hard drive. While Jeremy wasn’t using these hard drives for nefarious purposes, an entire industry has sprung up of people that do. As a result, proper IT equipment disposal has become a must-have for every company
The Greatest Little Secret of Cybersecurity
The world produces over 50 million tons of E-waste every year. As Jeremy found out, a stunning amount of that waste consists of computers that are improperly disposed of – often containing its hard drive and all the sensitive information it contains.
The Heidelberg Laureate Foundation reported that one investigator “recently bought 85 used devices for $650, and tried to see what information he could retrieve from them. He found over 366,300 files, including images and documents. These included personal details such as date of birth, social security numbers, credit card and passport numbers.”
Lest you think this is just a problem with personal devices, a recent Gartner study found that only 50% of companies are mature in following correct equipment destruction procedures. Illicit overseas organizations are often buying up these improperly disposed of machines to gather the sensitive data they contain.
The threat is so great that John S. Shegerian, the CEO of ERI, an IT recycling company, calls E-waste hacking an often-overlooked crime that is “the greatest little secret of the cybersecurity world.” Summarizing the Gartner security analysis, software giant Blancco says, “We believe their analysis confirms what we’ve seen in the marketplace: Data sanitization is no longer viewed as a “nice-to-have” data management practice. It’s a necessity.”
Secure IT Equipment Disposal: What You Need to Know
As you have seen, you simply cannot afford to do without a well-executed plan for disposing of your IT equipment. As you formulate, or revise this plan, here are some critical details you need to know:
- Reformatting the drive is not enough. When it is time to get rid of old IT equipment, many well-meaning companies reformat the hard drive and give the computer to charity. The problem with this is that even from a reformatted drive, data is often retrievable. When you give (or throw) the device away, you lose ownership of any data it contains. If you would like to give your old equipment away (bravo!) be sure to let a data disposal professional scrub the drives first.
- Ensure the entire IT equipment disposal process is documented. Let’s face it, it is easy to cut corners. Some data disposal companies pick up your computers and that is the last you ever hear from them. There is no way of knowing if the hardware was properly disposed of or not. Maybe it was properly wiped and shredded, or maybe they saved an expense by tossing it in the landfill. Ask your disposal company questions. Do they wipe every disc? Do they watch the destruction of the equipment? Be sure to get verification and documentation of the entire process.
- You need to think about all your IT devices. When it comes to secure IT equipment disposal, too often we just consider computers. However, in today’s integrated world, data is stored not only on desktops and laptops, but also tablets, smartwatches, networking equipment, routers, and switches. A thorough data destruction plan takes the elimination of data from all these devices into account
IT Equipment Disposal Done Right
At Enlivened Tech, we make it simple for you to be sure that your sensitive data has been completely eradicated from your old equipment. Once we receive your equipment, we perform a complete software scrub and provide you with data eradication documentation. Then, we list the serial number and size of the drive for every drive and personally watch as the shredder destroys them. We send you a log of the entire process, including the details of the drives destroyed, so you will have complete, verifiable confidence that your data is not accessible to criminals.
How We Can Help
Would your company benefit from implementing ITAD services? At Enlivened Tech, we can help you develop a strategy for managing the entire lifecycle of your IT equipment. Our ITAD services are a critical part of this process. If you would like to learn more about ITAD services for your company, fill out the form here, or give us a call at (513) 617-4822. We will give you a free evaluation of your IT systems and help you map out the ITAD process for your company.