Does your eWaste contain valuable company data?

August 30th, 2010 by Michael Giuffrida

We talked about the huge volumes of eWaste out there and the things you can do to help reduce it in an earlier post.   But the reality is that eWaste will still exist as we need to upgrade our computers, cell phones and copiers.  So what else do you need to think about when getting rid of this equipment.  How about the fact that your confidential company data may be on it for the taking?!?!

dispose-of-equipmentMost people consider deleting their files from the hard drive of a computer they replace, but did you know you how easily that information can be retrieved unless it is deleted with a special program that restricts recovery?  How about the emails that are on your cell phone when you turn it in that may include your customer’s credit card information on it from the last big sale you made?  And your fax/copier/network printer?!  This unit probably contains more confidential information than your kitchen sponge has bacteria after being used for several years.  Scared?  Good.

Several studies have been done recently that determined that confidential information is being recklessly discarded to the great peril of the companies that discarded it.  CBS news did a piece on copiers that revealed medical records, criminal records, and bank statements.  Kessler International did a study of hard drives purchased on eBay and found that over 40% of them had confidential data such as corporate financial data.  For some organizations, this is a breach of corporate conduct,  Sarbanes-Oxley regulations and other  state and federal privacy laws.

Don’t worry though, you don’t need to rent a storage shed for all of your old equipment or have a huge backyard bonfire.  There are ways to ensure that your data is safe and that you are protected.  To help, we have compiled this list of 5 things you should consider when disposing of old equipment.  While following these will not guarantee that your data will never fall into the wrong hands, you can at least be assured that you have made a good effort to protect it.

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