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When a business decides to get rid of old electronics to upgrade to new technology, it’s important they remember to clear any sensitive company data from the machines. Whether a company recycles the electronics or simply throws them away, they could be at risk of a data breach if they do not take the proper steps to clear the devices of personal information.

Some companies outsource the disposal of information technology assets to a third-party vendor that specializes in data destruction or electronics recycling. These vendors can be a cost-effective solution for a business looking to safely dispose of important company devices while ensuring their data is not put at risk. However, to avoid the risk of a data breach even more, some companies actually physically destroy drives and data storage media. This could be seen as the most effective way to ensure no data is stolen once it reaches the trash bin, Business 2 Community reported recently.

Yet, if a company wants to reuse a device, data sanitation services are also available. And for businesses that would rather recycle than destroy and throw the electronics in the trash, there are ways to determine if an IT recycling vendor can be trusted, B2C reported. Trusted IT recycling vendors or data sanitizers should be certified by the National Association for Information Destruction. This organizations audits and inspects vendors to ensure they are complying with regulations surrounding secure information handling, the source said.

Proper Recycling Pays Off
While doing some research on vendors is more time consuming than simply dumping old electronics into a trash or recycling bin, it will be a worthwhile process. If a company does not take these proper steps, they are putting their data privacy and security at risk. If a data breach were to occur, the company’s integrity and reputation could take a hit.

Data breaches can cost a company millions of dollars – as much as $5.4 million, according to the recent “2013 Cost of Data Breach Study: Global Analysis” by Ponemon Institute and Symantec. Indirect costs associated with a data breach can also add up and cause a loss of goodwill and customer turnover, Baseline reported.

Many states, like Colorado, actually require businesses to recycle their electronics. State law bans business electronics from being disposed of in a landfill, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s website. Many electronics contain valuable precious metals and plastics, and by recycling them, they can be reused. Recycling also reduces greenhouse gas emissions and saves energy, the department said.

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