Keeping sensitive consumer information out of the wrong hands has become a major priority for businesses, whether you’re a Notary Signing Agent, a retail store owner or an insurance broker. In today’s WiFi-connected, smartphone-dependent world, data can be stored on any number of digital devices, and many data breaches occur when businesses dispose of these devices. The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse offers tips for safely discarding them while protecting sensitive information.
Computers. Deleting files from your old computer does not remove the data. There are a number of specialized programs available that can wipe a hard drive clean, but the most secure method is to physically destroy the hard drive. A power drill or other power tools can come in handy for this purpose. Then take the computer to an electronics recycling center.
Cell phones. While the owner’s manual should have instructions for wiping a phone’s memory clean, many experts say this does not always work. Again, the safest method is to destroy its memory chip.
Flash drives. Use a screwdriver or pliers to crack open the case and destroy the flash memory chip. It’s the largest chip in the case. Experts advise using whatever tools available to grind the chip into bits.
Photocopiers. Nearly every digital photocopier made in the last decade has a hard drive, which stores the image of each document copied. It may not be practical to destroy the hard drive, but the owner’s manual should have instructions on erasing the data.
CDs and DVDs. Break them into multiple pieces. That goes for old floppy disks or other storage media, too.
All these tips may seem like a lot of extra work, but considering the treasure trove of data these devices often contain, it’s worth the effort. The last thing any business wants to do is inform all its clients that their information has been compromised.