Electronic waste is a huge problem that the world has to deal with. Every aspect of human existence is now invaded by electronic devices-TVs, servers, phones, refrigerators, and the rest. This has led to an unprecedented increase in the volume of e-waste in the world. In America alone, e-waste forms 70% of the overall waste in the country.
According to a report by Fortune, one of the major concerns over e-waste is not just an environmental crisis, but cyber-security concerns. Over the years, the cyber-security concern is borne out of the potential exposure of people to cyber threats as a result of data that is now properly destroyed. How serious is the cyber-security threat posed by the electronic recycling industry?
Some electronic devices, such as mobile devices, computers, and other items with storage ability can store valuable information that may be accessed by unauthorized individuals during the end of life process. That may pose a real cyber-security threat if such confidential information is stumbled upon by a cybercriminal.
In a recent study of 200 hard disk drives, it was discovered that most of these used hard drives still contain confidential corporate data. According to the study, 11 percent of used drives still contain information that may be used against an organization. You can imagine the degree of cyber threat that organizations whose data is stored on those drives would be exposed to if such data is retrieved and used against them.
There is a growing concern among people of the need to take proper care of e-waste as a preventive measure against the misuse of any data harvested from them for malevolence use.
In the words of John Shegerian, co-founder and executive chairman of ERl, a company leading the fight for better hardware cybersecurity standards, “In this age of rampant cybercrime, identity theft, and hardware hacking, it’s time for government agencies, businesses and individuals to all make securing digital data a crucial top priority. We used to see clients just ask us to wipe hard drives as the gold standard. But now, most Fortune 500 clients are asking us to wipe anything and everything with data, from printers to fax machines to phones and everything in between.”
The fear of having their security breached via e-waste that is not properly handled has led to the increasing concern about potential exposure to cyber-security among electronics users. Of course, that makes everybody a victim. We all use one electronic product or another, whether at home or in the office. Therefore, we are always apprehensive of losing vital information such as credit card details, social security numbers, or other confidential and sensitive information to cyber-attacks.
Another major concern is the threat that such an accidental spillage of vital information may pose to national security.
Now that national and international terrorism are common place, leaked information about a country’s top secret may lead to a total attack that may lead to loss of life or property. The security of the country may be compromised beyond mention and that may have dire consequences on the security and economy of the country.
This has led to the increasing demand by both individuals and corporate bodies for an effective method that can be used to minimize accidental vulnerability to cyber-attacks. It is in view of these challenges that the need for a permanent solution to the problem is a welcome development.
A federal appeal court in Washington, D.C. ruled in August on the matter of Attias v. CareFirst that consumers may sue companies that fail to safeguard their personal data. Companies like Equifax are feeling the effects of this first hand with a wave of lawsuitsalready filed following their massive data breach. Now, more than ever, it is critical for brands to have a sound cybersecurity policy in place, both for software as well as hardware.
As more people are scared about the security of their information, Shegerian believes that people will always pay to have their confidential information, such as trade secrets, login information, and credit card information, properly disposed of. That will reduce the growing anxiety over the safety of such information in damaged electronic devices.
While addressing this digital security issue, he added, “No matter who you are or how much you spend on cyber-security services and software, if you don’t responsibly destroy or recycle your hardware and the information it contains, you are leaving the back door wide open to hackers. This final step in the life of an electronic device is now more important than ever. Look no further than recent news stories like the Equifax breach as a warning and reminder of what is at stake.”
When your e-waste is professionally handled, be assured that your chances of being a victim of cyber-attacks are dramatically reduced.