Business Hardware

Concern about Secure Disposal Hampers Green Efforts

IT managers are concerned about where their electronic equipment is going after disposal because they are worried about sensitive data loss, not the environment, according to a new survey.

The survey, conducted by Osterman Research for Converge, a Peabody, Mass.-based e-waste disposal firm, polled approximately 110 IT managers and found two-thirds of respondents said their organizations do not have formal "green IT" plans. And when it comes to managing phased-out technology, IT managers are twice as concerned about data security as they are about being green, according to the report. (See Why Information Must Be Destroyed for a look at a comprehensive destruction plan.)

According to the report, more than 41 percent of respondents said concerns about data security breaches from assets released from an organization is the primary motivator for adopting a formal IT asset disposal program. In comparison, just 25 percent said their disposal program is motivated by their business commitment to being "green."

"What we see in the headlines is the green aspect of IT asset disposal. But what our customers have been telling us for some time is that it's the data security that keeps these folks up at night," said Chris Adam, director of IT Asset Disposition Services for Converge.

Adams said many clients have come to Converge following a breach that occurred because an organization did not yet have a formal asset disposal program.

"There have been some data security issues that have occurred on end-of-life equipment that was sitting idle in their locations that unfortunately was removed and a breach was discovered after the fact," he said.

The report also looked into the various disposal methods currently being used by organizations to get rid of their e-waste. While a majority said they use a combination of methods, including recycling and donation, 15 percent of those polled admitted their e-waste is simply placed in a dumpster. (Follow along on a real dumpster dive in Bank Tosses Personal Data, Checks, Laptops.)

"Who knows? That number may actually be higher. Some people may have been shy or embarrassed about answering that honestly," said Adams. "While most have gotten the message and implemented ITAD as more of a strategic part of their business plan, there is still work to be done. I think the good news in the numbers is that two-thirds of IT managers said they do have a formal asset disposition program." (Read a simple three-step disposition decision tree in How to Get Rid of Old Computers.)

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