Protecting confidential information is one of many issues with
which electronics recyclers must be concerned. Speakers at a
session titled “Keep It Confidential” during the Recycling Today
Media Group’s inaugural Electronics Recycling Conference &
Trade Show discussed the various data protection laws governing
data security and available information destruction methods.
Bob Johnson, executive director of the National Association
for Information Destruction, described the electronics recycling
industry as “the Wild West,” saying that “opportunists” can capitalize on the confusion that exists in the marketplace.
Johnson discussed legislation governing data protection,
including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act,
the Financial Services Modernization Act (also known as Graham-Leach-Bliley) and the Economic Espionage Act, which call
for entities to take reasonable measures to prevent unauthorized
access to data.
He said 13 states currently have laws with information destruction requirements, with only one differentiating between electronic and paper documents. These laws have also led to prosecutions, including six in Texas and 10 in Georgia.
Mick Schum, president of WeRecycle!, based in Wallingford,
Conn., provided information on the various methods of information destruction, from the virtual to the physical.
Electronics recyclers can employ deformation, pulverizing, degaussing, overwriting and shredding to destroy information saved
to a hard drive. However, Schum warned that data can be obtained
from large sections of the platter of a deformed hard drive. He also
said that screens are particularly important when shredding hard
drives, as they ensure an acceptable particle size.
While degaussing is a physical form of destruction using a
strong magnetic field that works for digital media and renders
hard drives unusable, it is not a visual form of destruction and can
leave room for human error, Schum cautioned.
Data overwriting enables hard drives to be reused. Using overwriting software, every track and sector of the hard drive is over-written with a predefined pattern of random data, Schum said.
Department of Defense (DoD) 5220.22-M Directive is the industry
recognized standard, he added, and it is satisfactory up to “secret”
level clearance. Data overwriting software requires three overwrite
passes of each sector and verification of the process.
Peter Prinz of American Electronics Recycling (AER), Sarasota,
Fla., said AER used to wipe all hard drives to DoD 5220.22-M specifications. Now, however, AER’s preferred method for data protection is hard drive destruction.
AER puts sensitive or classified hard drives into boxes that are
then sealed and marked. The hard drives are shredded without being removed from these containers ,
eliminating human error that can
occur with data overwriting, according to Prinz.
The Electronics Recycling
Conference & Trade Show was
at the Peabody Hotel in Orlando,
Fla., June 10 to June 12. The
World Reuse, Repair and Recycling Association, Middlebury, Vt.,
planned the programming.