Device Disposal without Compromising Security

January 11, 2018

While it's becoming standard practice to store important personal information in cloud-based online resources, there's still a significant amount of data held on individual devices. This raises an uncomfortable question: How can people get rid of their old electronic hardware in a safe way that will prevent their personally identifiable information from getting into the hands of others?

Safe device disposal involves handling two potential problems. First, figuring out whether the devices hold any information that could be lost, stolen or used for identity theft. If devices do contain such data, the second problem lies in how you can depose it with minimal risk.  Holding onto every useless old computer and cell phone isn't a sustainable answer.

Holding on to hardware

SC Media recently explained that significantly more than half of U.K. survey respondents have some fear of data getting into sinister hands when getting rid of old electronics. Unfortunately, the individuals seem to be holding onto their possessions instead of disposing of them. The survey, carried out by waste electronics processor REPIC, found 69 percent of people are worried about the protection of their identifying data. That fear caused one-third of concerned respondents to keep old electronics around instead of recycling them.

Proper device disposal involves the removal of personal data. According to SC Media, many device owners, especially individuals aged 30 to 44, don't know much about this process. REPIC CEO Mark Burrows-Smith urged more data deletion education for the general public. With 76 percent of people aged 16-29 worried about their data leaking, people need to know what steps to take if they are to recycle their devices in peace.

Wipe data before disposing

When it's time to get rid of a PC, smartphone or other connected electronic system, there are a few important steps to follow, according to a guide by Security Intelligence

Step 1: Back up and save valuable data. This is a more important step for companies than individuals, as firms may be required by law to save records. However, any computer user likely has at least some files worth saving, from personal photos to a carefully cultivated music library.

Step 2: Use a dedicated data destruction product or function. The everyday approach of dragging file icons into the trash bin isn't enough when it's time to get rid of a device for good. PCs, hard drives and phones used for corporate purposes may need to be destroyed in especially thorough ways, such as with a degausser or hard drive eraser.

Step 3: Donate or recycle it. Once you have successfully wiped the data from your device it is safe to dispose of via donating or recycling. Simply tossing a smartphone, hard drive or computer in the trash can lead to waste that doesn't biodegrade naturally and is sometimes a fineable offense. Look for organizations that collect old computers or check with your local recycling regulations.

Stay alert everyday

Device disposal isn't the only threat to a user's identity. Clever thieves are always on the lookout for any opportunity to compromise important information, and even people who have observed good practices can sometimes fall victim to such a crime. In these cases, it’s beneficial to have an identity theft protection service like Identity Guard helping you to protect your identity. With risk assessments and fast alerts, you can stay aware of today’s top security threats and be prepare to react. Get Identity Guard today!

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