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Organisations donating used devices must remove any data beforehand to avoid security breaches

Data theft

Consumer desire for the latest and greatest communication devices is creating a boom in the recycling business. Charities are also benefiting from the influx of old equipment being donated for reuse in the developing world.  This rise in spending on new technology isn’t entirely our fault. Big companies such as mobile providers are making it easier and more alluring than ever to part with an old device in exchange for a slick upgrade and a better billing contract. They are also helping to boost Britain’s handheld recycling business. According to analyst firm TechNavio, there will be a 19% increase in the number of recycled mobile phones by the end of 2015. Computer recycling will also experience similar growth.  UK charity Computer Aid processes as least 3,000 donated PCs and laptops each month. Add to the mix the unprecedented boom in iPads and tablets and you’ve got a lot of electric devices being given away for free.

How many recycling companies or charities, however, are actually erasing the data from the recycles devices? Do they even have the expertise to do it themselves? Clicking on a delete button is not going to permanently erase all the information  contained in a phone or computer. Neither will removing a SIM card. Computer Aid knows its credibility relies on ensuring that any equipment it donates is not only in working order but also comes with a clean slate. It uses Ontrack Eraser software from Kroll Ontrack so that every donated PC has its data permanently wiped before it is reused.  Disk drive wiping reassures the donor organisation that none of its data is being unwittingly passed on to new owners. It also reassures the recipient organisation that the PC is fully refurbished, rather than merely recycled.

Unfortunately there are plenty of other organisations that never take the time or even know how to wipe out data. Others purposefully keep data inside the devices to pass on to sophisticated criminal gangs abroad, who then use the information to commit fraud. Avoiding security breaches requires donors to research which recycling organisations have a policy for total data erasure. If you still aren’t confident, then buying a data erasure solution allows you to do the job yourself before you recycle a device. This is a small upfront investment that will protect you from fraud and stop you worrying about passing on data to charities. It also means you can do your bit to protect the environment too.

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