When you consider all the data breaches, cyber-attacks, and other threats to digital security that have made headlines over the past few years, it’s no wonder that information privacy is top of mind for many businesses. Information privacy is also a critical part of compliance with the many regulations and best practices related to data security and information management. Computer recycling programs and providers present an additional compliance challenge. Because computer recycling involves handling sensitive personal data during decommissioning, it can be a high risk activity from a compliance standpoint. There are several steps you can take as an organization to ensure your computer recycling provider is trustworthy. This blog post will introduce some key considerations when choosing a computer recycling partner that will help you evaluate their trustworthiness.
Establishing a Baseline of Compliance Before Partner Selection
Before you begin vetting vendors, you should establish a baseline of compliance. This will help you frame your expectations as you undertake the vetting process. Start by documenting what data you collect and why, where it’s stored, and how long it’s retained. This information can help you identify areas of vulnerability in your data supply chain and where you might benefit from more stringent controls. You should also familiarize yourself with the laws and regulations that govern your industry and operations. You should also know what data breach notification laws apply to you, including national regulations.
Mapping out your data supply chain
When mapping out your data supply chain, be sure to include all points where data is collected, stored, processed, or transmitted. This will help you identify any risk points in your chain and where you may want to put in place more stringent controls. If you are managing information in the cloud, you may want to explore cloud service agreements (CSAs) and cloud privacy policies to understand how your vendor manages your information and complies with applicable regulations. If you are using a contract service organization (CSO) or third party marketing (TPMS) vendor, you should review their contracts to understand how they handle your information. In addition, if you are outsourcing any IT operations, you should review their security policies and contracts to understand how they manage your information.
Assessing Recycling Vendor Reputation
If your company handles sensitive data, you may want to limit your computer recycling vendor search to vendors with a good reputation for compliance. A good place to start is the National Cyber Security Alliance’s Cybersecurity for the Nation (CFTN) Cybersecurity Marketplace. The CFTN Cybersecurity Marketplace allows you to search for vendors that meet compliance requirements for your industry (e.g., healthcare, financial, etc.). Vendors must be certified to be listed, and certification is based on compliance with a host of security standards. You can also use the marketplace to search for potential vendors. Once you’ve identified a few prospective computer recycling vendors, you can use the data supplied by the CFTN to verify compliance and request information on their data handling practices. Beyond the CFTN, you can also use Google search operators to identify vendors that have received negative feedback. This can help you identify potential compliance issues before you engage with a vendor and can provide insight into how they handle customer service and complaints.
Looking at Computer Recycling Vendor Contract Language
Most companies will put a computer recycling contract in place with their vendor. You can use that contract to hold your vendor accountable and ensure they are complying with data security and privacy best practices. The first thing you want to do is identify the key areas for compliance and make sure they are covered in the contract. For example, you want to be sure the vendor is disposing of data in a manner that ensures your data privacy and security, is adhering to data breach notification laws, and is complying with any other applicable laws or regulations. Beyond compliance, you may also want to include contractual language that spells out how your vendor manages data and protects your information. This can help you minimize risks associated with processing your data, including the inadvertent creation of a data breach.
Ensuring Secure Data Erasure and Sanitization Practices
If you’re recycling data storage devices, you need to be sure they are sanitized and secure. Under no circumstances should you be recycling storage devices that contain sensitive, unaltered data. This could lead to a data breach and become costly. To avoid this, you should make certain that your vendors are sanitizing their storage media prior to removal with a certified, secure data erasure solution. The best way to do this is by requiring that they use a certified third-party data erasure service. This way, you know your data has been erased according to best practices and that your vendor is not tampering with your data. You can also ensure your data is erased by requiring that your vendor send the storage devices to a certified data destruction facility.
Conclusion and Summary
When it comes to computer recycling, compliance goes beyond data security. You also want to be sure that you are disposing of your equipment ethically and not adding to the environmental contamination associated with this industry. That’s why it’s important to select a computer recycling vendor that shares your values and is committed to ethically disposing of your equipment. You also need to make sure they are using best practices in their operations and are adhering to compliance requirements. Choosing a vendor that shares your values and has your best interests at heart will help you create a culture of compliance.