Data Disposal And Sanitation: Securing Your Information When E-recycling

Electronic recycling offers a lot of benefits, both for the company and the environment. Yet, despite this, some companies prefer not to hand over their old electronics to be e-recycled, due to concerns about data and privacy. There is often a lot of confidential and personal information in gadgets like computers and mobile phones, and it can be nerve-wracking to recycle old electronics when there’s such important data stored within them. It’s understandable, considering how data can easily be stolen and used without the owner’s authorization these days.

However, there’s an even greater risk of data theft in simply throwing your electronic waste away. Without proper data disposal and secured e-recycling, people can simply acquire and steal your electronics’ information. But, isn’t deleting data, like a factory reset or data wipe, enough? The answer is no. Simply deleting your files doesn’t completely erase them. They leave behind traces or residues in your disk or memory, which can easily be retrieved using advance software. Proper and absolute data disposal can only be attained by data sanitation.

Data Destruction vs. Data Sanitation is an interesting comparison.
Despite having an almost interchangeable meaning, data sanitation is different from simple data destruction. The latter is a process of removing data through a software to ensure it can’t be used without authorization. While effective, it doesn’t verify that all of your data’s been removed, which means there’s still a chance they can be retrieved. On the other hand, data sanitation is a process that completely removes or destroys stored or residual data, making it completely unrecoverable even with the help of advanced tools.

There are three ways this can be achieved:
1. Physical destruction – This process involves destroying the memory, hard disk or the entire electronic device itself. The device is either shredded using a machine, or degaussed. This process is effective, however using this method can be harmful to the environment and any reusable material, as metals, will be no longer recyclable.
2. Cryptographic erasure – This process is done by encrypting the data storage using an encrypting software and destroying the key to its decryption, making the data impossible to retrieve. This is preferable method if the stored information isn’t that confidential.
3. Data erasure – Data erasure is achieved by using software that overwrites stored data using zeroes and ones, making it unreadable. This is the most secured of the data sanitation process and, unlike physical destruction, allows electronic components to be reused.

You can choose one sanitation option, or you can choose all three, depending on what electronics you’ll be disposing and what data they contain. There are e-recycling providers that offer data sanitation services, and this is much preferable particularly if you have no experience in electronic data disposal. However, you can also do a data clean-up personally, with help from your team, if you prefer a more hands-on disposal and want to be assured of the process. Once you’ve wiped out your storage and verified that there’s no data residual left, you can now hand your old electronics over to a secured e-recycling service provider.