With school back in session and Halloween just around the corner, the December holidays will soon be here. And with December holidays quickly approaching, it’s time to start dreaming about all the new technology purchases on your holiday shopping list. But as you dream, what will you do with all your current devices? As you wonder where you’ll take your outdated smartphones, tablets, and desktops, either conduct a Google search for your nearest e-waste drop-off location or use a convenient app on your smartphone to find a location. But, whatever you do, take security precautions.
The term “E-Waste” applies to electronic equipment that is at the end of its useful life and cannot be thrown away by conventional means: TV’s, computers, laptops, monitors, printers, cell phones, VCR’s, copier machines, fax machines, scanners, DVD players, cameras, keyboards, mice, speakers, computer backup batteries, computer wire/cables, ink cartridges (empty or full), motherboards, servers, stereos, radios, and electronic games. TV’s and computer monitors cannot be thrown into landfills due to their lead content. In 2008, there was 4.6 billion pounds of e-waste in the United States, but less than 900 million pounds (19%) of that waste was recycled.
There are places where you can drop off your equipment. Goodwill is one option and offers e-waste drop-off sites throughout North America. Another option is All Green Electronics Recycling with locations throughout the United States – and is based in Southern California. All Green picks up electronics from homes and offices and also recycles the e-waste. All Green’s competitive advantage is that it offers data destruction options ranging from low-cost data wipes to certifications required for the U.S. Government and military.
But before you say goodbye to your equipment, here are five quick security wipe reminders:
 For hard-drives in desktop computers, laptops, or tablets: remove the hard-drives and use a screwdriver, pliers, and hammer to take them apart and break the disks inside the case – that’s the only way to completely destroy the data. For external hard drives, destroy or use a military-grade wiping software – but a truly dead hard drive is one that has been taken apart.
 For cell phones: break the inside chips.
 For smartphones: use the security wipe features already on the phones. See your product guide for details. There are also apps available for this purpose for iOS, Android, and Blackberry.
 For copy and fax machines: remove flash memory and destroy.
 For all other equipment, check manufacturers’ websites to find out recommended ways to purge the memory.
Security is a serious business whether you’re a tech professional, a midsize business, or a tech enthusiast. Since you don’t want any of your data ending up in the wrong hands, do whatever you can to protect yourself. Don’t let the holidays bring you an unwanted gift: either your data ending up in the wrong hands or a case of identity theft.
Image Credit: digitalart via FreeDigitalPhotos.net
This post was brought to you by IBM for Midsize Business and opinions are my own. To read more on this topic, visit IBM’s Midsize Insider. Dedicated to providing businesses with expertise, solutions and tools that are specific to small and midsized companies, the Midsize Business program provides businesses with the materials and knowledge they need to become engines of a smarter planet.