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How to ensure zero electronic data theft while recycling

Date: 6 April, 2022

The current use of online platforms and social media have significantly increased. Many individuals, as well as organizations are using communication tools and modern electronics such as computers, laptops, smartphones, tablets or portable disk drives into their daily use to facilitate communication, online transactions and exchange of information.

Crucial data points are created and stored in this electronic equipment whether it be names, addresses, phone numbers, passwords, photos, as well as other personal information. If this information is leaked, the damage can prove to be very costly to the individual or an organization.

Leaked data can incur personal or financial losses to the owner of the data

Information leakage is mainly caused by when the owner destroys the data on their devices without following security protocols. It is easily assumed that clearing their devices by simply deleting or using factory reset is enough to permanently delete the data. Another common mistake by is thinking that devices which can no longer be turned on or are broken, are completely safe from any data leakage or theft.

Simply deleting, doing a factory reset or thinking that a broken device is safe to give away can result in data theft

Owners are also likely to sell or give away their old electronic data devices to shops, other individuals or recycling units without knowing that their data can still be recovered.

Data theft can be an expensive affair and can have far-reaching effects, affecting an individual’s or entity’s operations, compliance, finances and credibility.

So, how to ensure your data is not leaked while you part ways with your electronic data devices?

Data Destruction or Data Degaussing is a process to remove all recorded data from an electromagnetic data device.

Whenever you decide to give away, sell or recycle your electronic data devices, ensure that they are professionally cleaned or destroyed to safeguard your data and the environment. 

Here are the industry standard processes to ensure secure data destruction.

Data Wiping: Data experts ensure that data is overwritten and is irrecoverable from the device and the system. It is a cost-effective solution for the data owner to get rid of the recorded data.

Degaussing: The process involves erasing data with the help of demagnetization of hard disks, floppy disks, magnetic tapes or cassettes. In this process, the data on the magnetic media gets scrambled using degaussing machines by reversing the magnetic field. It makes the data completely unreadable. 

Physical Destruction: Total physical destruction of the electronic media is carried out by puncturing and drilling the hard drive, ensuring that data from it is completely irrecoverable.

The above steps render your electronic data devices completely safe from data theft, after which, they can be safely recycled.

Further, ensuring your data sanitiser or E-Waste recycler adhere to the following Global Standards for Data Destruction, can leave you with complete peace of mind.

  • DoD Sanitized/US DoD NISPOM: US Department of Defense National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual, also known as DoD 5220.22-M.
  • NIST 800-88: National Institute of Standards & Technology 800-88, guidelines for media sanitization.
  • CSEC ITSG-06: Communications Security Establishment Canada, IT Security Guidance 06 – on clearing and declassifying electronic data storage devices.
  • HMG IS5: British HMG Infosec Standard 5
  • DSD ISM: Defence Signals Directorate Information Security Manual on risk-managed protection of information and systems as per the Australian Government.

So, while parting with working or non-working electronic data devices, ensuring complete data destruction, before their sale or recycling, can keep you free from any data-related losses or thefts.

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