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Being Secure While Being Green

Tossing out digital devices with data on them is a security risk. Disposing of digital devices improperly, with or without data present, is an environmental risk.
Tossing out digital devices with data on them is a security risk. Disposing of digital devices improperly, with or without data present, is an environmental risk.No news to bMighty readers that green is the way small and midsized businesses are going, both making and saving money as they green themselves and their operations.

It's important, though, to keep security matters in the foreground as you green your business.

The primary security risk you face as you pursue admirable environmental goals is unsecure recycling of data-bearing devices.

While computers, PDAs, notebooks, phones and other electronic devices should never go into the landfill, they should also never go to even reputable e-trash recyclers without first having their data-storage capabilities physically removed.

Again: physical removal of data storage is a must, even if you're just positive that you've wiped the disk clean of all data.

I've made this suspenders, belt, and more suspenders case here before, and gotten plenty of good-natured kidding about it. But I stand by my argument:

The only way to be sure that no data is going out with the device you're disposing of is to remove the data storage tool itself, not just that data it stores.

(I used to say that once you'd removed the hard disk or other storage element, you could smash it with a sledgehammer, run over it with a bulldozer, then smash it again and feel pretty secure, but the recovery of data from a disk that was badly mangled during the breakup of the Space Shuttle Columbia cured me of that belief.)

I recently had occasion -- and opportunity, our rural area's first formal e-trash recycling day -- to get rid of a couple of decades' worth of accumulated hardware.

Closets and storage corners that had held the stuff are now clear -- and all too ready, knowing my nature, to all too soon hold all too much non-digital stuff. But where the computers and printers and etc. had been, there is now empty space... except for one small box of hard disks and storage media.

Save the planet -- but save your business's private information while you do so.

(And don't forget to pass the word to your employees and colleagues, some of whom may well have business data on those old PCs and PDAs that they're getting ready to recycle.

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