Does Your Company’s Recycling Service Constitute a Data Breach Threat?

Millions of companies across the country may store lots of sensitive data in a number of different ways, whether it's electronically or on paper. However, while they may be confident in their ability to keep those records in total safety, things may be a little different when it comes time to dispose of that information. For this reason, it's important that companies know whether their recycling or trash services will not pose a data breach threat.

The simple fact is that when most companies dispose of old files or computers and hard drives, they may also be creating a risk of a data breach that could put them in serious jeopardy, according to a report from Business 2 Community. This may be particularly true for electronics recycling programs or companies because unlike paper files, it's very difficult to make sure all sensitive data is completely inaccessible or destroyed; certainly, there's no shredder you can safely put data on a hard drive through.

For this reason, small business owners should be extremely careful when signing a contract with such a service, as certain things they don't know could come back to haunt them in some ways, the report said. For instance, just because a company has what is known as a "certificate of recycling" does not technically make them qualified to make sure all data on electronic devices which are no longer wanted are disposed of in strict accordance with state or federal regulations, and finding out what specific measures each potential firm will take to fully protect that information from a data breach is likely key to making sure such an incident does not take place.

While improper electronics recycling is certainly not the biggest data breach threat companies face, it can certainly be a problem, and utilizing specialized firms that can make sure there is a physical destruction of the sensitive data, rather than other processes, could be most beneficial to small businesses, the report said. Some companies participating in this field may, instead, use tools that are supposed to erase all data on devices they receive and then resell them as a means of further increasing the amount of money coming in.

Why the additional risk?
While this is often done with a certain amount of safety in mind, it's also not foolproof, and may present an additional data breach risk for small businesses, the report said. Recycling companies that are certified by an organization known as the National Association for Information Destruction – which, as the name implies, specializes in this type of process – are likely to be the safest of these firms, as the organization routinely inspects and audits compliance with the latest security measures and compliance.

When disposing of devices that might contain sensitive data for clients or customers, it's also important that owners make sure they are investing in the right types of small business insurance. For instance, failure to be covered by some sort of tech insurance policy that will help them to cover any costs that may spring from a data breach. Often, the price for remediating such an incident, including paying for notification and protection for potentially large numbers of victims, as well as increasing security measures, can be quite high. Most small businesses are simply not financially ready to take such a hit, which can often stretch into the hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. It is for this reason that such an insurance policy may be the only thing standing between a company and potential ruin when a breach strikes.