Most people don’t give much thought to just how much information is stored on their computer. This can be problematic when it comes time to dispose of old computer equipment. Whether it is at work or at home, your computer is filled with vital information. This information can be accessed by thieves and used to steal your identity, credit information, and even find incriminating information that can be used for something more sinister such as blackmail. As well, your computer and other electronic devices use materials containing toxins that are bad for the environment and, therefore, have to be disposed of properly. With all this in mind, whether you have a whole slew of computers through your organization or a single personal computer at home, destroying your old hard drive properly is very important.
Two First Steps
Before you dispose of your old hard drive, you should take two important steps to make sure the programs you use and paid for can be used on your new computer:
- Deauthorize your computer for programs such as iTunes and Microsoft Office 365 to ensure you are able to authorize your new computer for use.
- Uninstall your programs such as Microsoft Office, as they often contain personal information that can be accessed by cybercriminals.
Even when you delete a file from your computer, it can still be accessed by tech-savvy criminals. When disposing of your computer, it is important to securely wipe all data from the system with the assistance of a professional. The data not only has to be wiped, but the hard drive must also be written over repeatedly to make sure the data cannot be recovered.
If you are disposing of your computer because it no longer starts up, it is easy to assume that if you can’t access your data, no one else can either. However, if this is the case, tech-savvy criminals still have the ways and means to get to your data. In this case, it means you have to destroy the hard drive to make sure that anything saved there is no longer recoverable.
Encrypted Hard Drives
Many organizations do not realize that the personal data of their clients and employees is also at risk even if the hard drives are encrypted. However, even when a hard drive is encrypted, companies should always have a security process to ensure all data is permanently removed, or the hardware itself is destroyed.
Certificate of Data Destruction
It is not enough to simply destroy the hardware, but also necessary to confirm by a professional that the data is in fact irretrievable. This can only be confirmed by a company that has the ability to securely wipe the functional drives of the computer and then physically destroy them. You then want the company to provide a Certificate of Data Destruction, so that you are 100 percent certain everything is verified. This will include the serial number, make and model of the device, and details of how the computer was destroyed.
Once you are confident your data is safely wiped and your hard drive is destroyed, you want to ensure that the remaining parts are responsibly disposed of. E-cycling your computer is an excellent option, as it keeps toxic e-waste from ending up in landfills. It also prevents unethical practices, such as shipping e-waste to developing nations. Many of these nations allow children to scavenge for parts to recover any components businesses can reuse. As well, in other cases, countries with lower standards will use lesser components to create refurbished electronics and resell them using unethical means. To avoid all of these undesirable scenarios, make sure the company you are using to destroy your hard drive will ensure toxic e-waste is handled ethically and stays out of landfills.
If you would like more information on proper destruction and disposal of e-waste, click here to contact the eCycle team.