With International Recycling Day being celebrated today (17th May), Kroll Ontrack, the data recovery and ediscovery services provider, is advising businesses to destroy the data that is stored on disused servers, laptops, computers and mobile devices before recycling to ensure no data falls into the wrong hands.
In the UK disposal of electronic equipment is the fastest growing waste stream, with an estimated two million tonnes of electrical and electronic waste disposed of each year. Most electrical equipment can be recycled from servers and desktops to laptops and smartphones but should be done through appropriate channels as can be found via DEFRA or even sending back equipment to the manufacturer. Dell, HP and O2 all offer these services.
Phil Bridge, Managing Director of Kroll Ontrack said, “businesses go to great lengths to protect data in equipment they are currently using via encryption, backups, and redundant systems but often the data which has been protected so carefully is easily stolen from disused equipment if not properly destroyed. If the data was once worth protecting it is worth permanently deleting and businesses in particular need to make sure they dispose of data as carefully as they protected it.”
Kroll Ontrack and its partner Blancco recently undertook a research study to find out how much data could be found on second-hand devices. Researchers examined 122 pieces of second-hand equipment, and found that 48 per cent of hard disk drives and solid state drives contained residual data, while thousands of leftover emails, call logs, texts/SMS/IMs, photos and videos were retrieved from 35 per cent of the mobile devices.
Upon closer examination, researchers discovered that a deletion attempt had been made on 57 per cent of the mobile devices and 75 per cent of the drives that contained residual data, showing that even returning devices to factory settings does not necessarily erase personal information.
Recommended top methods for destroying data:
When recycling your old equipment:
Erasure software – the software overwrites random binary sequences over existing data. This is done several times to minimise the risk of any data recovery. Beware though that different media devices (HDD, SSD, Flash) may need different techniques to successfully delete the data.
When throwing your equipment away with no possibility of reuse:
Degaussing – this method works on devices reliant on magnetic opticals. It ensures rapid deletion through a demagnetisation process. This method is best used for damaged media or devices which will not be reused.
For more detailed information on sanitising devices, consult this secure deletion guide book.