When we think of Data Security, images of passwords and network lines pop into mind. But there is still a good deal of security that needs to happen with the hardware your data is stored on. The reason for this might not be readily apparent—especially when decommissioning server bays. However, as this company discovered, data is like a bad penny; it always turns up.
The duality of security
As you think of your business’s data security, there are actually two kinds of security that should be a part of the conversation: digital and physical. The digital space is saturated with anti-malware and data-erasure programs to handle them, but unless your ITAD partner keeps a solid security plan for your actual devices, your data may still be open to attack.
Unfortunately for most businesses, one of the most common causes of data breaches is also the least attended. This oversight costs corporate America Millions of dollars each year. The reason this latent data on older machines is a snare that many businesses run into is because it isn’t readily apparent. Beige boxes all look the same whether their data has been wiped or not. And not having a solid physical security protocol in place can lead to misplacing sensitive data.
What a physical breech can lead to
Since businesses overturn IT assets every few years on average, the likelihood of misplacing data is almost guaranteed. This is something our CEO, Robert Houghton has been preaching on for over a decade; off network, or the devices themselves, pose a huge risk in potential data hacking. And when using recyclers who aren’t e-Steward certified, the likelihood of your data being shipped overseas is equally high. The reason for this is e-Steward is the only Basel Convention-aligned certification, which watchdogs the exportation of toxic waste.
Setting your data up for a physical breach like this is one of the most common ways data security becomes compromised. Cyber attackers or opportunists preen e-waste for data like this all the time. It’s easy money if you stop to think about it: download the data off some hard drive laying in a field somewhere, then sell it to someone on Craigslist. But a good physical data-security protocol can keep your data from this same fate.
The nuts and bolts of your data security plan
Consider the ways a hacker might gain access to your data—in every way they possibly could—when building your security process. And make sure it includes the entire lifespan of those devices. Keeping in mind that many of the devices your businesses use still have a lot of life left in them when they’ve reached their end-of-life for business will prevent you from overlooking the disposition vulnerability.
The quarantine and legal-hold part of our proprietary process is a way we safeguard companies’ data on devices being dispositioned. This includes everything from a highly secure transition from their offices to the lock-down storage in our facility. And our data-erasure software handles 100% of the data destined for destruction on devices that will be resold or donated.
Taking these steps is our way of professionally securing extremely sensitive data from being compromised—all while staying sustainable with those devices. And we can’t stress how important it is to have the same sober approach to your own office’s devices. Don’t give opportunistic hackers the satisfaction of finding the easiest way to your data; lock it down until it’s time to erase or recycle it.