Protecting Your Data as it Walks Out the Door

Everyone knows why data security is important. In fact, it gets more important every year. In 2020, approximately 59 zettabytes were consumed worldwide. While that number might be an all time high due to Covid related remote workforce, zettabytes are a lot. A zettabyte is 1,000 exabytes, and one exabyte is 1,000 petabytes. Each petabyte is 1,000 terabytes. A zettabyte is enough storage for 30 billion 4K movies, or 60 billion video games, or 7.5 trillion MP3 songs.

All that data is a literal goldmine for hackers. By attacking business networks, hackers are accessing company secrets, patient data, credit card information, social security numbers, confidential strategies and creating huge losses for the overall economy. Cyber-attacks cost US companies somewhere around $15 million per year.  That translates into job losses – approximately 500,000 per year.

Cyber Security at end of life

One thing that’s consistent is in almost every company, of every size, is concerned with phishing scams, cyber-attacks, hacking, or data breaches associated with their IT equipment. Most companies utilize cyber security to some degree to protect themselves. Some just use virus protection, while others use firewalls, VPNs, multi-factor authentication, password managers, or encryption software. It’s not just desktops and laptops that are at risk. Hackers can use a number of methods to obtain the data stored on tablets, smartphones and laptops, and any other device on a company network.

What’s not consistent is what companies do with their IT equipment and other electronics at the end of it’s life. There are a few options, but not many of those options take data security as seriously as it deserves.

Here’s why:

Many of the IT equipment that gets disposed of still has data on it. The same data that hackers are trying to get while it’s in use. It’s on hard drives, back-up drives, thumb drives, cell phones, servers, photocopiers, printers, tablets, and point of sale equipment.

There are also fines associated with mishandling of obsolete IT equipment. Yet, many organizations are just happy to hand over their devices to any “recycler” willing to pick them up or even pay a small amount for it. These “recyclers” are often either reselling the devices or recovering the precious metals in the circuitry. A study of recycled devices by the National Association for Information Destruction found that 40% of resold devices contained personal information. With a non-certified recycler, there are no regulations, no licenses, and no guarantee that your information won’t end up in the wrong hands.

The US Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency now states that overwriting or wiping data is no longer acceptable for sanitization of magnetic media; only degaussing or physical destruction is acceptable.

So how does that happen?

How do companies degauss, destroy, and dispose of their devices? They find a reputable, licensed, certified recycler that can perform digital data destruction of hard drives and back-up drives, supply chain of custody documentation, certificates of destruction and recycling. This ensures one very important thing:

Your devices will be destroyed in such a manner that they can never be reused, identified as coming from your company, or hacked.

The stakes are high here. Choose a recycling vendor that is not certified to destroy your data and you may save a few dollars, but what’s at risk is your company reputation, business, jobs, and fines. Protect your data while it’s in use, but don’t forget to protect it when it’s not.

Download the free white paper, “Choosing a Technology Recycling Vendor in 5 Steps