Getting Rid of Old Electronic Equipment? Destroy the Data!

Today I stumbled on a business blog post from Chubb that really grabbed my attention. This was regarding disposal of computers, laptops and any other electronic equipment that may contain personal information about employees, clients or customers. Make sure that the information has been completely destroyed!

Here’s the post……“Trashing Bytes of Information”

old computersWhen you dispose of this type of equipment, it is not enough to simply delete the information from the hard drive or format the disk. Instead, you should overwrite, or wipe, the hard drives and disks. You can do this by purchasing a wipe disk software program that conforms to Department of Defense requirements.

If you dispose of equipment without taking the proper steps to destroy the information, it could still be accessible and this may constitute a data breach. Your business may be subject to the same fines, penalties and regulatory notification requirements as if your systems had been infiltrated by a hacker.

Techniques for Removing Information

1. Deleting

Deleting information is not effective. It removes pointers to information on your device, but it does not remove the information. Do not rely on the deletion method you routinely use when working on your device, whether moving a file to the trash or a recycle bin or choosing “delete” from a menu. Even if you “empty” the trash, the information is still there. It can be retrieved.

2. Overwriting

Overwriting is effective on all computing devices. It puts random data in place of your information, which cannot be retrieved because it has been obliterated. There are software programs and hardware devices available that are designed to erase your hard drive, CD or DVD—but because these programs and devices have varying levels of effectiveness, it is important to carefully investigate your options.

3. Physical Destruction

Physical destruction is the ultimate way to prevent others from retrieving your information. Of course, you should physically destroy the device only if you do not plan to give it to someone else. Specialized services will disintegrate, burn, melt or pulverize your computer drive and other devices. If for some reason you do not wish to use a service, it is possible for you to destroy your hard drive by drilling nails or holes into the device yourself or even smashing it with a hammer. Never burn a hard drive, put it in the microwave or pour acid on it.

See more on this subject at: Cyber Liability Safely Disposing of Your Devices


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About Jimmy Kinmartin - Business Insurance & Risk Management Broker

Jimmy is a California licensed Property & Casualty AND Accident & Health insurance agent working at the ISU - Olson Duncan Insurance brokerage in Torrance, CA. He grew up in Fullerton, CA and graduated from Servite High School in Anaheim and Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and currently lives in Tustin, CA. Have questions? Just ask! Or, follow Jim on Twitter at @JimKinmartin

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