We are living in a world of fast technological change. Because this technology is more accessible, and the components that run these devices are cheaper to produce, it is often cheaper for companies, and consumers, to replace their devices than repairing them.
This has led to one of the biggest challenges of the technological age, how do we minimise e-waste and what are the proper protocols behind IT asset disposal (ITAD)?
Securing data is a priority
One of the biggest misconceptions that technology users have is that data disappears once they hit the delete button on their PC and emptied their recycle bin. While this addresses the biggest part of the action that you want to perform, meta data is left behind.
Meta data are small breadcrumbs of data that is left behind on the media on your device after you perform the delete command.
It is important to note that even if you empty the trash, the deleted files are still on the device and can still be retrieved. Permanent data deletion requires several steps.
If you are using a PC or a laptop, it is advisable that you make use of a disk cleaning software which is specifically designed to permanently remove the data stored on a computer hard drive. This will prevent the possibility of any other person recovering your information.
There are other methods that can also be used:
- Secure erase. When you perform a secure erase, you are giving the PC/laptop a specific set of commands within the firmware of most computer hard drives. There are specific programmes that are designed to perform this function which will erase the data on the machine by overwriting all areas of the hard drive.
- Disk wiping. This is a utility that erases sensitive information on hard drives and securely wipes information off of flash drives and secure digital cards.
If you are disposing of a smartphone or tablet, you need to ensure that all data is removed from your device by performing a hard reset which will return the device to its original factory settings. This is typically accessible in the settings menu of your device. In addition, physically remove the device’s memory card and SIM card.
If you are disposing of digital cameras, media players, and gaming consoles, you will need to perform a standard factory reset (hard reset) and physically remove the hard drive or memory card.
With office equipment such as copiers, printers, fax machines and multifunction devices, you will need to remove any memory cards from the equipment and then perform a full manufacture reset to restore the equipment to its factory default settings.
Overwriting is another option
Overwriting information is another way to effectively make sure that nobody can access your data.
Data is secured on a computer by binary code which is a string of 0s and 1s that forms a specific pattern identifiable by computers and IT specialists. Using a program that zero fills hard disks and other programmes that exclusively use zeros in the last layer of information will effectively protect any information that is left behind on the device. It is always recommended that users should overwrite the entire hard disk and add three to seven passes of new binary data when disposing of equipment in order to prevent attackers from obtaining the original data.
There are some programmes that can be used to achieve this:
- exe is a built-in command-line tool which can be found in Microsoft Windows that can be used to encrypt or decrypt data on New Technology File System (NTFS) drives. This tool also securely deletes data by overwriting it; and
- Clearing is a level of media sanitation that does not allow information to be retrieved by data, disk, or file recovery utilities.
Trust the professionals
We all work with technology, but not everyone is an IT specialist. When it comes to the ITAD process, companies may have one eye on the new equipment and, in the excitement of the new equipment arriving, they may overlook one or two steps in the data security process.
QRent offers an ITAD service that will effectively deal with this process.
- Decommissioning of assets. This process includes the uninstalling and removal of assets from the network. The asset is then entered into a database that enables assets to be tracked throughout the ITAD process;
- Reverse logistics. All equipment can be collected and transferred to our secure facility for data sanitisation, refurbishment, remarketing and recycling;
- Data destruction and sanitization. Our process utilises Blancco’s certified software to ensure that all data contained within is rendered completely irretrievable. This can be performed either at your premises or at our secure facility; and
- Disposal and recycling. All devices unsuitable for re-use are disposed in a secure and environmentally responsible manner. Our processes comply with all e-waste regulations and provides e-waste disposal certificates for all disposed assets