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Dispose of old hardware the right way, or you could be at risk

Don’t take chances with old tech

Arthur Gaplanyan

June 15, 2023

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File Shredding

Everybody loves new devices. Getting the latest features, faster processing, and bigger storage. But what do you do with your old device? Of course, you get rid of it, but what about your data? Of course, you wipe it, but is that enough?

No, it isn’t enough to just wipe data from your old device. Just doing that can leave you at risk.

A company that specializes in data recovery recently performed a test to see how many files they could recover from purchasing used hard drives online. Spoiler alert: It was a lot.

Some highlights are that roughly only a third of the drives were “sanitized”, the process of making data not recoverable. A third of the drives were damaged and not attempted to recover, though data was recoverable if they chose to repair them. The final third was completely recoverable.

Over 5.7 million files were recovered in total, ranging from images to documents. Most of the multimedia files such as photos and videos did not contain any compromising information, but the documents absolutely did.

There were over 200k document files recovered. These types of files are the ones that most businesses are using daily, including things like Word, Excel, and pdf files. Worse yet, there were over 200k mailboxes recovered, containing email archives, contacts, and calendar items for users.

This is the type of information that can be utilized to breach company networks or used in cyber-attacks such as impersonation attempts.

How do you dispose of old hardware properly, so your data is protected?

Whenever you dispose of an old device, make sure to sanitize the storage drive. Sanitizing is the process of removing and destroying all data stored on the drive.

Factory reset and formatting aren’t good enough. That merely erases the file system so it looks clean. The data is still stored on the drive and can be accessed using software designed to do so.

There is a way to “full format” so that any existing data is overwritten with nonsense data (all zeros) to prevent any type of recovery.

This takes a bit of time so if you’re disposing of more than one device then you might want to consider using professional services to do so for you.

Either way, our recommendation is to not take any chances with your old drives. If you have any questions about properly wiping your old data or other upgrade and security practices, then reach out today.