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Shop ’till you drop, but don’t forget to degauss

Shop ’till you drop, but don’t forget to degauss


Shopping season is upon us, which means many people will be trading in their old electronics for new ones. While there’s nothing more exciting than taking the wrapping paper off a new laptop, computer or tablet, it’s important to safely dispose of your old device before you toss it aside.

Electronics flying off shelves
Every year there’s a new phone or laptop that arrives just in time for the holidays. This will likely ring true this year, but the effects of the massive upheaval in personal electronics can, in fact, affect enterprises as well – especially people who have company information on their electronic devices.

How massive is the yearly upheaval? According to the Consumer Electronics Association, roughly 160 million Americans planned on buying the following during the last shopping season:

  • Televisions
  • Tablets
  • Smartphones
  • Laptops
  • Video game consoles

Last year two out of every three people planned on purchasing electronics – this number is expected to grow with each passing year. In fact, U.S. News and World Report listed November as the premier month for technology shopping. Black Friday and Cyber Monday present some lucrative deals to consumers that are hard to pass up, according to spokesman Mark LoCastro.

“Officially, we see [ads for] Black Friday deals as early as September,” LoCastro told the news source. “The sheer volume of deals and quality of deals are highest at [Black Friday and Cyber Monday].”

All of these new electronics means old devices will be thrown away. But before tossing it in the trash or selling it second-hand, it’s important to wipe the information clean from the hard drive.

Consumers will be shopping for electronics on Cyber Monday.

Degaussing to the rescue
Many people don’t even understand how to erase personal information from their retired technology. If it doesn’t have any value, they’ll try to crush it and recycle the parts – but if it does, they’ll drag all of their files to the recycle bin in an effort to clean it up. The truth is, both of these expose the seller to unnecessary risk. If any financial or confidential information is stored on the technology, and these two methods of data erasure are used, it’s likely someone will be able to access all the information that was once thought to be deleted.

The simple fact of the matter is that once data enters a hard disk drive, like client or personal information, nothing short of rendering the drive completely unreadable is a viable solution. People will often download data erasure software to wipe it clean, but all this does is scramble the code – sort of like moving things around in a messy room and calling it clean.

“Degaussing keeps personal information away from hackers.”

Degaussing demagnetizes the media storage device, making the data stored inside completely unreadable if it were ever retrieved. This is the only way to truly ensure that once an electronic device is disposed of, the information it previously held can’t be accessed.

After degaussing, it’s advised to crush the device in a collaborative effort to ensure the data that was once stored on it is completely irretrievable. This way, the device can safely be disposed of without any worry about whether someone can access it.

With shopping season ahead of us, a lot of people will be swapping old for new – and making themselves vulnerable to data theft in the process. The only way to stay truly safe is to degauss the device before getting rid of it. Those who don’t will be playing with fire, as you never know what can happen to a laptop or computer once it’s out of your hands.

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