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News

The risks of PDA and hard drive disposals.

SafeBoot : 24 July, 2007  (Technical Article)
Safeboot warns of the dangers of careless disposal of IT equipment without ensuring that the data they contain has been adequately eradicated.
It's been a busy survey month, with two similar investigations showing that we are a nation of risk-taking recyclers. Hard to believe, but true. Apparently we are risking financial ruin and identify fraud by forgetting to wipe sensitive data from PDAs and PC hard drives when we dispose of them, with over a third of second-hand business PCs still containing sensitive data from the previous owner.

It's great to hear that we're looking to save the planet, but we need to use our grey-matter a little first. Tom de Jongh, product manager at mobile encryption specialist SafeBoot, warns that people need to be a little more savvy when saving the planet:

"I commend any business that looks to recycle old IT equipment, but IT administrators need to look beyond the delete button and simple disk-formatting steps to ensure information integrity. Cached data can be impossible to completely eradicate so administrators must show some common sense to make sure corporate assets are secure. It's naive to think that pressing one button does the job.

"The most obvious way to ensure all data is safely deleted is to entrust recycling to a specialist. There are many partners in the UK that can successfully wipe hard-drives before machines are recycled, but this can be costly and doesn't really get to the root of the problem. The fundamental issue is that the data is unprotected in the first instance.

"Perhaps one should instead look to encrypt all data on corporate PCs - prevention rather than a cure. This would automatically secure data from potential theft/mis-use both during a PC's service-life and would ensure its integrity during the recycling process. This approach makes sense. It's a win-win situation.

"If total peace of mind doesn't appeal to you, and you'd rather stick with simple data deletion, the other alternative is to buy a hammer!"
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