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Avoiding data loss through old computer sales

Tier 1 : 10 September, 2008  (Technical Article)
End of life management of computer equipment is stated by Tier 1 as a major aspect of data loss prevention
Tier 1 Asset Management has warned that high profile cases of confidential personal data finding its way into the public domain will continue, unless UK organisations start to use tried and tested processes for the removal of equipment once it has reached the end of active corporate service.

Eyebrows were raised in many quarters when data from Royal Bank of Scotland turned up on eBay recently, albeit via a third party source. Jon Selby, Marketing Manager at Tier 1, understands why errors have been made, but is angry that big companies get their data security safeguards badly wrong. "With privacy laws, environmental legislation and data recovery technology in a constant state of development and change, there's little wonder that a company's processes vary just as frequently."

Selby added, "It is no coincidence that of the recent data loss episodes, none have come when a specialist asset disposal organisation has been involved."

Even the use of eBay as a channel to re-market ex-corporate equipment may be viewed by some as a potential risk, but Selby is quick to point out that, as with most things, finances have a big part to play. "Tier 1 sells more ex-corporate laptops than anyone else on eBay UK, and this means that by selling directly to end users, we can give more revenue back to our clients than if we sold equipment in bulk to the trade. The key point is that with an established, suitably-accredited process and the right data erasure tools to do the job, the channel via which equipment is re-used does not matter, whether that be through direct sales, trade or charitable donation."

The recent WEEE Legislation that aims to encourage the re-use of electrical equipment in its original form has also shaped many business' views that simply smashing hard drives to ensure data integrity is just not an option any longer. Selby explained some other telling reasons. "With corporate citizenship and in particular waste management so high on the agenda of organisations these days, consigning a perfectly good, working machine to the recycling bin is not an option. Environmental concerns aside, the current economic climate means that companies want to maximise revenue return for their equipment. Using a proven, water-tight disposal process offers both these things, and crucially guarantees data security."
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