As cybersecurity threats evolve, many businesses have implemented device security features such as locks to prevent sensitive data from getting into the wrong hands. While this can be an effective cybersecurity measure, it can also present challenges when it comes time to process your devices at the end of their lifespan. In order to refurbish your devices and therefore maximize their value, our electronics recycling professionals here at Quantum must be able to access them. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to ensure your devices are ready for refurbishment without compromising security.
The Challenges of Locked Devices
To ensure the greatest level of data protection, security features can be added to many different devices, including laptops, desktops, smartphones, and tablets. Each brand and business may have its own unique security features, from passcodes to firmware locks. For example, Apple products will have different security features than a Windows, Android, or Chromebook product. Some assets also have remote device management in place, a feature managed by corporate IT in conjunction with a third party, which must be deactivated remotely.
Modern IT teams focus on mobile device management (MDM) as one of their core IT practices. Most MDM solutions can now manage almost any device or endpoint in the workplace environment, a practice known as “unified endpoint management.” Using an MDM solution will help prevent security threats, as you can streamline managing and securing apps and content and access to sensitive data. Specifically, MDMs activate device security locks that prevent the reuse of these devices outside the original organization if not removed prior to retirement. Since these locks are mainly cloud-based, they can’t be removed at the device level.
All of these features do an effective job of making data more difficult for would-be cybercriminals to access. Yet, these safeguards lock everyone out — not just bad actors. With so many different possible security features, our team doesn’t know which we may encounter. In some cases, certain security features can prevent us from being able to erase data from the unit or reselling it, which in turn stops your business from getting the most value from its investments and reducing its carbon footprint.
What to Do if You Have Locked Devices to Recycle
The good news is that there are still ways to keep end-of-life devices secure while preparing them for refurbishment or recycling. Depending on the type of locks that are in place, here are several options to consider:
- Provide a list of which security features are in place for each device. This will allow us to determine the channels we can go through to sanitize your device, and whether or not the device can be refurbished and resold. Your IT department should be able to provide a comprehensive list of which devices are enrolled in which security programs. An itemized list with make, model, serial number, and security features will streamline the process for all parties.
- Provide passwords. If you wish to keep your devices password-protected throughout transit, consider providing passwords to us once your equipment reaches our facility. Quantum holds the highest level of certification for data security in the industry. Our employees are background checked and rigorously trained to sanitize your devices using the most trusted protocols that will ensure your assets and data are fully protected.
- Have IT release the devices from locks remotely. With this approach, you can keep your devices locked during transit and have your IT team release them remotely upon their arrival to our facility.
- If your organization uses an MDM solution, have IT mark the status of the device to “Retire Device” in MDM once it has served its purpose and will no longer be used in your organization. This process also provides data protection. In addition to MDM, devices must be manually removed from Apple DEP, Samsung KNOX, or any other user-based activation lock; i.e., a personal iCloud account, Find My iPhone, or Google FRP locked devices.
Quantum understands that data security is of the utmost concern for businesses, no matter your size or industry. We’re ready to collaborate with your IT team to find the best solution that allows you to recoup the greatest value for your end-of-life assets while maintaining the highest degree of data protection. Find out more about our approach to data security here.