Corporate Computer Disposal: What’s the Real Danger?
With the speed of technology these days, companies often find themselves replacing employee computers nearly every year or two to keep up with software and hardware advancements or just plain wear and tear. For that reason, it often isn’t cost effective for businesses to reuse these machines and they are sent out for recycling or donation.
While recycling or donation is great for the business and the community, there is an inherent danger. If these machines are not properly sanitized, customer and corporate information could end up in the wrong hands and may lead to the theft of customer information or corporate liability.
However, if computers aren’t properly disposed of, there are two risks you should be aware of—data security or corporate liability and an environmental risk of toxic components or chemicals being released into the community and having a hazardous impact on the environment.
Corporate Liability Risk
Proper computer disposal not only means being environmentally safe; it also means being responsible with the data contained on those old machines. Your company could be liable for customer or financial information that could fall into the wrong hands after discarding your computers.
The passage of the Federal Trade Commission's Disposal Rule (16 CFR Part 682) on June 1, 2005, states that companies disposing of computer equipment need to take necessary steps to responsibly remove personal or financial information from the machines and to do so securely.
Do-it-yourself Data Security
Erasing files from your computer will not be enough to keep a data thief from accessing your confidential information. Data-wiping software can make information retrieval more difficult, although wiping the computers yourself is not a solid guarantee – even if it is done multiple times.
Be aware that once you begin running a hard drive wiping program, you will not be able to recover your data. You should work with your IT department to make a mirror of your hard drive. If your company has a server, you should go through your computer files to make sure the most important files are saved to the network and not to your computer’s hard drive. In order to avoid interrupting business, you will want to have your new computer up and running for a few days before reformatting an old machine.
If you are donating or selling old computers that may contain sensitive or confidential information, you might consider removing the hard drive first and disposing of it separately. Southeastern Data offers disposal and data sanitizing of entire machines or their experienced technicians will shred hard drives on-site at your office so that sensitive information never leaves your property.
Often these older machines can be used for parts, however, depending on the age and condition of the computer, recycling may be the only option.
Many basic computer components can be safely reused. This includes plastic from keyboards, metal from computer housing, and glass from monitors. At the same time, toxic chemicals like lead and cadmium need to be extracted to keep them out of landfills and groundwater. Fortunately, in most communities, companies like Southeastern Data offer computer recycling as an easy option. They will even come to your business and pick up your discarded machines.
Before making any decisions about what to do with your old or unused computer equipment, consult your company’s policies governing the destruction or donation of this equipment. And, before you discard any business computers or electronics seek the help of professional e-recyclers and ask the right questions. Your business, corporate stature and privacy may depend on it.
Southeastern Data is a business computer, electronics and e-waste recycler. Services include e-recycling, data security, IT asset management and remarketing. Learn more at SoutheasternData.com