thumbnail image for blog post: Is My Data is Safe?

How do I know if my data is truly safe when I recycle my computer?

This question is a very important one to ask when you recycle your computer or any data-bearing electronic device. Often times, people do not do their research on the electronics recycling process where they are bringing their old electronics and trust their data will safely go away along with their computer. Unfortunately, this easy mistake can land their data in the wrong hands.

When looking for an electronics recycler for unwanted electronics, whether for a business or for personal use, always ask the following questions to make sure the data is safe:

  1. How are the devices secured at collection? Whether dropped at a recycling event or collection location like the City of Sioux Falls Household Hazardous Waste Facility, picked up by a recycler's truck, or delivered directly to the electronics recycling facility, ask how the devices are secured to make sure they don't get misplaced before the data is destroyed.
  2. Will the equipment be resold? If the equipment will possibly be resold, ask about the refurbishing and data wiping process. The current accepted data destruction procedure follows the NIST SP 800-88r1 standard. To guarantee the electronics re-seller is following this standard, look for NAID, e-Stewards or R2 certifications, meaning their processes have been audited and certified by a third party auditor. You can also ask if they offer remarketing share to see if you can get some value back from your equipment.
  3. What happens if the device can't be reused? If the computer itself of hard drive can’t be reused, ask how the recycling and data destruction process works. If the electronics recycler is certified to e-Stewards or Seri's R2 certification, they can guarantee data will be destroyed through shredding and all parts of the device will be responsibly recycled. If they are not certified, you have no guarantee, even if they give you a piece of paper with "Certificate of Destruction" on the header. Anyone can print this off, without a guarantee of certification, the original generator of the device (aka You) are on the hook if data is breached or equipment is disposed of improperly - no matter what verbal promise they gave you.
  4. What type of chain of custody reporting is provided? For businesses especially, this one is important. Ask what type of documentation is provided for transparent chain-of-custody tracking. This means, how do they track the device throughout the entire process, from the point it leaves the customer's custody all the way to final disposal. Truly secure electronics recyclers or resellers should be able to provide signed bills-of-lading, serial number or asset tag reports, resale reports, and certificates of destruction and recycling verified by a third party certification. These types of reports will ensure you have proof of proper data destruction and electronics recycling if you are ever challenged in an audit for your own certification or regulation requirements.

If your business is located in the upper Midwest region, SEAM can securely destroy your data and recycle or resell all of your electronic devices for you. We serve businesses in South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska and beyond! Contact us for a free quote on your next decommissioning or refresh project.