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Steve Skurnac, Sims Recycling Solutions
Steve Skurnac, Sims Recycling Solutions

Mind the Security Gap: Protecting Customer Data Stored on Retired Electronics

Protecting customer data stored on retired electronics -- six questions financial institutions must ask when navigating the process of selecting a recycler for end-of-life electronics.

1.Does the recycler "own the lifecycle" or rely on subcontractors? A recycler offering a complete range of remarketing and recycling services internally will eliminate reliance on subcontractors to process your redundant electronics. Selecting a recycler that manages every step of the process internally improves accountability, increases security and streamlines reporting.

2.Can the recycler ensure data security? Look for a recycler that offers NIST-compliant data destruction and validation of that destruction, especially if IT assets will be resold. Depending on your company's requirements, you may want to locate a recycler that can provide on-site degaussing and hard drive destruction, hard drive shredding, witnessed destruction and certificates of data and physical destruction.

3.Is the recycler certified? A certified recycler is committed to not only operating in accordance with recycling industry best practices that govern environmental, health, and safety management systems (R2, e-Stewards, ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001), but is also implementing the latest standards that regulate information destruction (NAID) and the secure handling, warehousing and transportation of equipment (TAPA).

4.Does the recycler have the financial heft to protect customers from potential liability? A good indicator of a recycler's ability to do this is evidence of general and excess liability insurance as well as pollution liability and cyber security insurance. An insured recycler is able to protect customers from and manage the potential financial risks associated with recycling electronics.

5.Where does the recycler do business? A recycler operating a network of strategically located facilities will be able to process and recycle your company's obsolete electronics no matter where your company does business. This will also minimize freight costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and simplify logistics.

6.Does the recycler allow tours? Even if a potential recycler meets all the above criteria, conduct a site visit to see the facility size, examine the recycling equipment and evaluate the physical security measures in place. Determine if employees are background screened and drug tested. Request a list of current customers and contact them.

Remember that your organization will continue to be held accountable for the data in your technology even after retirement. That is why it's imperative for your company to reach informed decisions about the way it disposes of retired electronics. When seeking recycling services, look for a recycler that has the global reach, expertise and infrastructure to guarantee that your data is secure, your electronic equipment is processed in an environmentally responsible manner, your reputation is protected and your compliance risks are eliminated.

Steve Skurnac is the president of Sims Recycling Solutions, a global provider of electronics reuse and recycling services.

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