Out of Sight is Not Out of Mind
As our world becomes increasingly digital, we seldom realize how much of our personal and business information is stored on our electronic devices. While many people realize the hard drives on their computers are for data storage, they often don’t know that the information is often retrievable even after you hit the delete button.
However, it is no longer just those hard drives that can tell a great deal about you. Digital information of all types in now stored in such devices as:
- Cell phones (especially smartphones with advanced features)
- Copy machines
- Fax machines
Electronics Recycling Foils Thieves’ Digital Gold
Millions of these machines are tossed out each year. The growth in electronics recycling has attracted a new breed of digital thief. They have learned how to mine the information many of these devices contain. It makes for a pretty rich mother lode.
Millions of Potential Information Breaches
For example, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates a staggering 40 million computers become obsolete each year. Cellphones are rapidly becoming an even bigger problem, with 125 to 150 million a year being discarded, with only a small percentage recycled.
Just one discarded medical technician’s phone with texts concerning patient information can represent a reportable instance of a HIPAA breach. Additionally, many mobile devices now capture passwords and banking login information so it’s easy for users – which means easy access for thieves.
While proper electronics recycling is the right eco-sensitive approach (and required by law in California), it’s important to go about it in a smart way. The first step is, of course, to use available programs to fully delete your electronic information before discarding any device. Secondly, take care to rely on secure electronics recycling only from a reputable firm. You don’t want your hard drive or memory cards stripped out and shipped overseas for pilfering and reuse. You can ask about the procedures use and take steps to ensure secure destruction of all your stored digital records.
Always remember that when it comes to your electronics discards and trash, any digital information left behind is at risk for identity theft. Shredding electronics is a sure-fire way to destroying all confidential and sensitive data.
Do you shred your hard drives as part of electronics recycling?