Partnering Up for Media and E-Waste Disposal

Topics: Data Center Management

As pundits debate global warming, you’ve got a more pressing issue: How can your firm properly destroy data while making sure the process is both secure and environmentally sound?

Your company’s mission statement probably doesn’t contain a commitment to heal the Earth, but it’s crucial to properly dispose of all your old technology gear—not just for environmental reasons, but also out of legal necessity and the need to hold down your bottom line. You simply can’t afford to let the information stored on old technology fall into the wrong hands.

Secure IT asset disposition (SITAD), the process of getting rid of old technology safely, requires a bit of planning. First, consider the data privacy and security regulations, along with electronic waste (e-waste) disposal rules, that inform your operation. These vary from state to state, and they may very well dictate how you get the job done.

The rules are there for a reason. Without secure procedures in place, your company could be at risk for data breaches, penalties and, perhaps worst of all, a damaged reputation. And without environmentally friendly procedures in place, your company would add to the ever-growing mountain of e-waste that is choking landfills and threatening the natural resources where you live.

Magnetic Media: A Key Consideration

Keep in mind that several federal regulations require public companies, financial firms and healthcare-related companies to have secure processes for data disposal—particularly magnetic media. Laws that may apply to your company include:

  • The Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA)
  • The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • The Federal & Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA)

It’s critical that you familiarize yourself with the regulations covering your state and industry. Typically, the regulations demand a two-step destruction process for magnetic media such as hard drives. The first step erases the data permanently; in the second step, the drive itself is physically destroyed.

What’s on That Flash Drive? Complete Media Destruction

Of course, hard drives are just one place where confidential data may linger. A comprehensive secure media destruction plan includes environmentally friendly ways to dispose of backup tapes, DVDs, USB flash drives and all sorts of other non-paper media that accumulate in offices over time.

Because this type of media destruction requires specialized equipment and procedures, it’s imperative to look for a partner that can render your obsolete data permanently destroyed and non-recoverable while also ensuring the proper recycling of the plastic and metal refuse.

A trusted secure media destruction partner should:

  • Ensure secure transportation of your sensitive information and equipment to the destruction site
  • Rigorously train and screen its personnel
  • Provide you with a documented workflow to prove its accountability
  • Offer an environmentally friendly waste-to-energy incineration process whenever possible

Deep-Six the Gear—Responsibly

Secure media destruction and secure IT asset disposition go hand in hand. When it comes to emptying out the old computer room, you should partner with an e-Stewards® certified recycler, which offers an auditable process to guarantee that it’s not exporting your e-waste to a developing country, shipping it to a landfill, or simply burning it. Teaming with an e-Stewards recycler is the easiest way to ensure your compliance with the latest regulations affecting your industry.

Remember: Data may reside in even a few kilobytes of memory, which means that old printers, phones, fax machines and even projectors may need secure disposal treatment. It’s a tall order to take responsibility for dusty boxes crammed with dormant computers and cables that no one has looked at in years. But if you put a smart plan in place, you’ll end up with a cleaner office—and a cleaner world.

Do you have questions about information management? Read additional Knowledge Center Small Business resources, or contact Iron Mountain’s Small Business team. You’ll be connected with a knowledgeable product and services Small Business specialist who can address your specific challenges.

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