Businesses of all sizes, types and industries rely on technology to facilitate daily activities that promote productivity, efficiency, and cost savings in the office. As a result, employees are surrounded by equipment, including computers, copiers, scanners, printers, fax machines and more.
And while this office equipment is essential in today’s digital workplace, it is also a liability. Since these devices are so commonplace, many business owners forget that these machines store sensitive information easily accessed by identity thieves.
Any time a print-out, scan, fax or photocopy is made, information is stored on the office equipment. When that machine is decommissioned, that critical data is vulnerable to theft, costing companies millions in lost business, failed opportunities and a tarnished reputation.
Don’t fall victim to a data security breach. Read on to learn more about safeguarding business equipment to minimize the risk of a serious privacy violation.
Office Equipment That Holds Sensitive Information
Here is a list of current and legacy office equipment, devices and media that are commonly found in the workplace and store critical company information that is susceptible to a data breach:
General Equipment: Printers, document scanners, fax machines, copy machines and dictation machines.
Mobile devices: Cell phones, smartphones, tablets, laptops and personal digital assistants (also known as PDAs or handheld PCs).
Computer hard drives: Work computers with Parallel Advanced Technology Attachment (PATA), Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA), Small Computer System Interface (SCSI) and Solid State Drives (SSD).
Computer memory: Random Access Memory (RAM) and Read-Only Memory (ROM).
Magnetic media: Floppy drives, zip disks and tapes.
Optical media: CDs and DVDs.
USB removable media: Pen drives, thumb drives, flash drives and sticks.
Memory cards: Secure Digital (SD), Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC), MultiMediaCard (MMC), compact flash, microdrive and memory sticks.
Embedded flash: Non-removable flash memory used for storage in smartphones, tablets and other portable devices.
How To Protect Sensitive Data Stored in Office Equipment
Thieves target office devices to gain access to the confidential data stored within. This critical information can be used for identity theft, to gather intelligence about customers, employees and business partners, and other malicious intents.
Keeping this equipment secure is key. Here are several ways to ensure the safety of electronic devices and any stored data:
Employee education is essential to reducing the threat of a data breach. Training should cover basic security policies, from using strong passwords and two-factor authentication to keeping security software up to date and being aware of suspicious activity, such as phishing scams. Employees should also learn how to secure personal electronics in and out of the office.
Companies must create policies and procedures detailing how employees dispose of important documents (paper and electronic), as well as any electronic media on office appliances, such as fax machines, printers, copiers, etc., when they are due for retirement.
New and decommissioned electronics are easily stolen if protections are not in place. Businesses should keep devices up to date with the latest operating systems and stored in a secure location with limited access or areas where employees require key cards. Alarm systems and cameras in less obvious areas also protect business premises from perimeter breaches by suspicious individuals gaining access to company devices. When electronic equipment is due for disposal, it should never be left in sensitive areas, such as empty offices, back alleys or a dumpster. Instead, businesses should keep it in a locked place to limit access and maintain information security until secure destruction is carried out.
Regularly keep a record of office devices and maintain a physical inventory to track where equipment is located, who has access to it and what information is stored. All appliances should include a unique inventory identifier for added security (for example, an identification tag containing pertinent information). Another good rule is to ensure all office gear is easily identifiable with a company logo to reduce the temptation and risk of being stolen.
Hard Drive Shredding
Hard drive shredding is the most effective way to ensure data is correctly disposed of. This type of destruction method uses a heavy-duty shredding machine that is built for electronic media. It works by grinding up and destroying every part of a drive into small shards so that no section or tract is readable. With this destruction method, private company data or documents left on the device can never be recovered or stolen.
3 Reasons Destruction is Essential For All Organizations
Proper destruction of drives and devices ensures the following:
- Security of Sensitive Information
The risk of a severe security breach increases each time an old drive is improperly disposed of. These electronics are a tremendous security liability and contain vital information – everything from the operating system and software to medical records, financials, trade secrets and other confidential data. Without a secure destruction method, companies risk the safety of their data security.
- Privacy Law Compliance
When it comes to government privacy laws, electronic data must be securely destroyed – just like paper documents and hard copies – to maintain compliance. This includes old hard drives and other office supplies, such as copier, fax machine and printer hard drives, removable solid drives, disks and USB drives, CDs, magnetic tapes and more.
- Diversion of Electronic Waste From Landfills
Recycling may sound like an environmentally friendly solution, but it puts confidential data at risk when it is left in an unprotected landfill. On the other hand, hard drive shredding services ensure all electronics are safely destroyed and recycled so that confidential data can never fall into the wrong hands.
Enhance Your Data Security With Blue-Pencil’s On-site Destruction Services
You can feel confident knowing that your electronic media is securely destroyed and properly disposed of with Blue-Pencil’s on-site, high-speed media shredding services.
Our state-of-the-art, professional-grade equipment uses cross-cut shredders, which instantly destroy devices to 5/8-inch pieces to make data recovery completely impossible. This method of destruction is also in accordance with NAID AAA certification regulations for the ultimate security.
Once your service is completed, your company will receive an official Certificate of Destruction with a scanned serial number for each device that was destroyed. All shredded electronic scrap will be sent to a facility for separation and environmental disposal. You’ll never have to worry about your confidential information ending up in the landfill or in the hands of data thieves.
To learn more about Blue-Pencil’s on-site destruction services, please fill out our online contact form to request a free quote from our customer service team.