Your computers, tablets and smartphones are used to store and communicate data which – if in the wrong hands – could be used to compromise the safety and security of your organisation and its employees. This data could be stored on the device itself, or accessible in the form of internet bookmarks, remote network access, or via email and social networking contacts.
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Remember that even if you have deleted files and other content from computers and mobile devices, this data may not have been properly erased and can be retrieved by criminals with the minimum of effort..
It is vital, of course, to safeguard this data whilst devices are in use, but equally important to ensure that computers, tablets and smartphones do not remain vulnerable at the end of their life. This is done by disposing of them correctly. Even data which you may think has been safely deleted can be retrieved with relative ease by both dedicated criminals and skilled opportunists.
Disposing of computers
If you have a computer with work data on the hard disk that you need to retain, copy it across to the server prior to deleting it. If you have a PC and wish to transfer data, settings and user profiles to another PC, you can download a free Microsoft utility called PCmover Express here. You could also back up all unsaved data in the cloud.
Fully erase the hard disk(s) so that any confidential personal information is completely deleted. However, simply deleting files is not enough to permanently erase them. Instead, use a dedicated file deletion program or service, or physically destroy the hard drive to render it unusable. Alternatively, if the hard drive is still serviceable and reliable, you could re-house it in an external case with power supply and USB connection and use it to back up or exchange your data.
CDs, DVDs, memory cards, USB sticks and other USB connected devices may also contain your sensitive data and care should be taken that they are removed. If appropriate, dispose of them with equal care.
If the computer equipment is at the end of its life and not to be re-used by you, a colleague or anybody else, it should be dismantled and the components recycled correctly and responsibly by a proper disposal facility in accordance with the WEEE (Waste Recycling and Electronic Equipment) Directive.
Disposing of smartphones & tablets
Ensure that any data or settings you need are copied from your device by syncing it with its associated computer – or backing it up to the cloud – then restoring it to factory settings.
In the case of Android devices you must enable encryption before applying the factory reset. Apple iPhones already feature hardware encryption by default – a feature that cannot be user-disabled. To be completely sure that your data and settings are deleted, however, download and use a reputable data deletion tool.
If the device is at the end of its life and not to be re-used by you, a colleague or anybody else, it should be dismantled and the components recycled correctly and responsibly by a proper disposal facility in accordance with the WEEE (Waste Recycling and Electronic Equipment) Directive.