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In this issue, we will discuss how stockpiling your old hard drives makes your organization more vulnerable. This begs the question: why take the risk?
Many Canadian businesses, both large and small, may not realize that the most effective way to properly dispose of hard drives and electronic media is to destroy them. The issue is new enough that many companies’ safety protocols and procedures don’t account for unused hard drives and electronic media. Instead, businesses often store items with confidential information on them in a storage closet under lock and key. Despite both the short and long-term negative consequences, many Canadian businesses appear to follow this process because they are unaware of the risks to themselves and their customers.
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As technology evolves, misconceptions have emerged about hard drive and electronic media security. For example, locking up old hard drives in an IT closet or an off-site storage facility is often perceived as a safe option, despite being a target for data thieves. Even if organizations use software to erase, wipe, reformat and degauss electronic devices, it may not fully protect you - confidential data from obsolete hard drives can still end up in the wrong hands. Carelessness is just as dangerous, with improper destruction potentially leading to a costly breach that could damage your company’s reputation. This begs the questions, why risk it?
Shred-it’s 2012 Information Security Tracker survey, which assessed the opinions of small and large Canadian businesses, demonstrated that 55 per cent of Canadian businesses mistakenly thought that erasing, wiping or degaussing their devices before recycling them was enough to protect their confidential information from being lost or stolen. Another 19 per cent of Canadian businesses indicated that they simply recycled their old electronic media. Further, 10 per cent said they didn’t know how their business was disposing of its aging or obsolete computers, or other data-storing devices such as smartphones or photocopiers. Given the importance of destroying a hard drive, it’s startling to think that only 16 per cent of businesses across Canada reported using this method of destruction.
Could it though? Recently, there was a massive data breach in Canada when an employee at Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) lost a portable hard drive containing personal information from over half a million students. Even though this occurred in November 2012, the department didn’t advise the public until the new year. The hard drive contained the names, social insurance numbers, birth dates, contact information, and loan balances of 583,000 Canada Student Loans Program borrowers.
You might be quick to point out that this is not your business and may think that it wouldn’t happen to you. You may follow policies and procedures, but do all of your employees do the same? While investigations into Boston Children’s Hospital’s loss of data continue and those affected are receiving information about protecting themselves, the information breach has once again raised red flags around workplace policies and procedures.
The Canadian Human Resources Minister has called for stricter protocols. Below is a list of best practices to implement in your workplace to avoid data theft, including:
The cost to destroy hard drives is minimal when compared to the potential risks faced when you don’t. Shred-it, the world leader in document destruction, can permanently destroy confidential information at a low cost that will fit your budget. Not only that, hard drive destruction is the most effective way to permanently destroy all information. Shred-it’s secure chain of custody ensures pick-up and destruction of the unit within two business days, with a Certificate of Destruction issued for your files. At the end of the day, Shred-it’s Hard Drive Destruction Service will offer more than just a certificate; it offers the peace of mind you deserve as a member of the Canadian business community.
Shred-it has developed a survey to help businesses better understand security gaps. Conduct your own security self-assessment.
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