Don't Forget About E-Waste During the Holidays

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Allan Pratt, MBA

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As you receive and unwrap all those great tech gadgets, how much time have you spent deciding what to do with the outdated smartphones, tablets, televisions, and computers? Don’t throw them out with the regular garbage. Instead, consider the environment, but first, take security precautions.

The term “E-Waste” applies to electronic equipment that is at the end of its useful life and cannot be thrown away by conventional means: TV’s, computers, laptops, monitors, printers, cell phones, VCR’s, copier machines, fax machines, scanners, DVD players, cameras, keyboards, mice, speakers, computer backup batteries, computer wire/cables, ink cartridges (empty or full), motherboards, servers, stereos, radios, and electronic games.

TV’s and computer monitors cannot be thrown into landfills due to their lead content. In 2008, there was 4.6 billion pounds of e-waste in the United States, but less than 900 million pounds (19%) of that waste was recycled.

There are places where you can drop off your equipment. Goodwill is one option and offers e-waste drop-off sites throughout North America. Another option is All Green Electronics Recycling with locations throughout the United States – and is based in Southern California.

All Green picks up electronics from homes and offices and also recycles the e-waste. All Green’s competitive advantage is that it offers data destruction options ranging from low-cost data wipes to certifications required for the U.S. Government and military.

For those of us who handle our own security wipes, here are five quick reminders:

[1] For hard-drives in desktop computers, laptops, or tablets: remove the hard-drives and use a screwdriver, pliers, and hammer to take them apart and break the disks inside the case – that’s the only way to completely destroy the data. For external hard drives, destroy or use a military-grade wiping software – but a truly dead hard drive is one that has been taken apart.

[2] For cell phones: break the inside chips.

[3] For smartphones: use the security wipe features already on the phones. See your product guide for details. There are also apps available for this purpose for iOS, Android, and Blackberry.

[4] For copy and fax machines: remove flash memory and destroy.

[5] For all other equipment, check manufacturers’ websites to find out recommended ways to purge the memory.

Security is a serious business whether you’re a tech professional or a home user. Since you don’t want any of your data ending up in the wrong hands, do whatever you can to protect yourself – especially during the holidays.

Allan Pratt, an infosec consultant, represents the alignment of marketing, management, and technology. With an MBA Degree and four CompTIA certs in hardware, software, networking, and security, Allan translates tech issues into everyday language that is easily understandable by all business units. Expertise includes installation and maintenance of hardware, software, peripherals, printers, and wireless networking; development and implementation of integration and security plans; project management; and development of technical marketing and web strategies in the IT industry. Follow Allan on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/Tips4Tech) and on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/Tips4Tech).

Cross-posted from Tips4Tech

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