Chain of custody is a phrase that sounds more related to a criminal investigation than the world of data destruction. Yet a good chain of custody is a critical concept for IT assets. Without it, an organization could be vulnerable to fraud through data misappropriation. Essentially, a data chain of custody is a documentation trail that clearly describes the receipt, transfer, analysis and ultimate disposition of IT assets when disposed of by an offsite recycler.
As an IT professional, a strong chain of custody is what you want if your company’s data is destroyed offsite. Think of the chain of custody as damage control similar to not letting your credit card out of your sight at a point of purchase. There are numerous scams by servers and clerks for copying credit cards by taking the card just below the counter level, for example, or into another room while allegedly processing a transaction. Unfortunately, the same unethical behaviour can happen with your company’s data.
To mitigate against unethical behaviour when recycling offsite, it’s always best to work with a reputable, fully certified vendor such as Quantum that is third party audited annually. This way, you can be sure that opting for offsite recycling will not be a decision that comes back to haunt you through misuse of data.
Problems with Offsite Data Destruction
With offsite data destruction, there are several points in the process when problems can occur with your data. The usual procedure for hard drive destruction is that data assets are first transported by truck from your office to the recycler where the data is then destroyed and the physical assets recycled or resold. A short list of things that can go wrong during this process is:
- The truck transporting your IT assets can get in an accident or stolen, either of which can expose your customers to identity theft..
- The driver isn’t trustworthy and delivers some of the assets with data intact to someone other than the designated recycler.
- The assets are labelled incorrectly by the recycler and put into the resale pile with data intact.
- The assets are sold to a third party with data still intact or shipped overseas to a developing country where the data can be misappropriated.
Onsite Data Destruction Is the Solution
The solution to the potential problems that can occur when data assets are handed off to a recycler for processing is to have company data destroyed onsite by a reputable recycler with a mobile shredder. If your company is serious about data security, onsite data destruction eliminates all the “what if’s” that you might worry about. A 2017 survey on hard drive disposal best practices by The ITAM Review showed that while information security was the biggest consideration when disposing of hard drives, 61 percent of survey respondents did not follow a specific data destruction standard.
The advantages of onsite data destruction are numerous:
- Your assets never leave your possession.
- The entire process can be witnessed by one or more people.
- There is no opportunity for loss of assets en route to the recycler or through mistakes by the recycler.
- There is no wait time for transport or destruction..
An Ethical Recycler Will Reduce Your Risks
When you choose the right vendor for asset disposition, your data will be secure and you’ll maximize value in whatever fashion is required; the hard drives be will either shredded or resold. The right vendor has your interests at heart and will do what’s best for you. An ethical recycler will make sure that assets that are wiped and reused are equally as secure as those that are physically destroyed because wiping is done by following industry standards. There are firm processes in place so that nothing gets missed and all the data is safe.
However, recyclers like Quantum recognize that some companies can’t or won’t take the risk of having sensitive data leave their premises. For these companies, Quantum recommends onsite data destruction because it effectively eliminates all the middle steps where something can go wrong.
If you’re ready to discuss the disposition of your company’s sensitive data, contact Quantum today and rest easy knowing that your data chain of custody will be fully secure.