In a recent article I wrote, I discussed ways for independent financial advisors to recycle, dispose or reuse old computer equipment. As I finished the article I realized that I needed to stress the importance that you cannot simply get rid of the old equipment – you have to take into very serious consideration what was on that old equipment and what you used the equipment for. The most obvious example of this is if you have a copier on lease – a lot of the current copiers keep an image of the copies on the hard drives located in the machine. Returning that equipment to the vendor is like giving them a file cabinet full of your customers secure information. Always clean the hard drive (wipe) of those machines prior to letting them leave your office/home.
Below are some best practices that you should follow when disposing of equipment:
1: Inventory all equipment
Be aware and keep an inventory of all of your computer equipment on hand.
2: Keep Secure
If you decommission the equipment, keep it secure until you are ready to implement the method of disposal.
3: Do not wait
Do not leave your equipment sitting around waiting for somebody to get the time to securely wipe the equipment.
4: Remove access
Immediately remove access to old user accounts that may be on the machine.
5: Clean the Hard Drive (Wipe the device)
For cell phones and computers, do not assume the equipment is going to be taken to a landfill and nobody will be able to access the device. Even if you think that there is no sensitive data on the device, consider if you are willing to bet the business that you are correct. Encrypting the hard drive before doing any clearing of the hard drive (formatting) can help make data even more difficult to access.
6: Be Meticulous
Do not try to take shortcuts or try to save time when disposing of old equipment. You are responsible for the safekeeping of your business’s data.