Are you getting organized? Doing a little spring cleaning? If you are considering buying and selling used devices here are some tips from a pro that you must consider.
By Simon Hunt
Spring is in the air! It is the traditional time to clean house, tidy away things you don’t use, and time to dispose and replace old tech gadgets that we’ve accumulated over the last year. This is a time when many SMBs consider buying and selling used devices.
In attempts to be more cost conscious and stretch limited resources, businesses may look to purchase second-hand office equipment, such as used laptops, tablets and mobile phones. Buying used equipment can provide huge savings to a small business, but in order for the savings to be worth it, precautionary measures need to be taken to protect their business and customers. Inherent risks exist for both the buyers and sellers of used devices and second-hand office equipment.
When buying and selling used devices or recycling used devices, small business owners need to make sure all data has been properly wiped when buying and selling used devices. If a device gets into the wrong hands, SMBs could expose their intellectual property, personal identifiable information or other confidential data. While larger corporations can easily bounce back from data breaches, nearly 60 percent of SMBs will be forced to close their businesses within six months after a cyber-attack, according to Small Business Administration (SBA). From stolen financial information to compromised customer records to hijacked intellectual property, the potential cyber threats that can drive SMBs to bankruptcy are endless.
Buying and Selling Used Devices
According to the results from a recent study conducted by McAfee, part of Intel Security, with DePaul University on buying and selling used devices, laptops and tablets proved to have the most recoverable data, possibly due to the multitude of tasks performed on these devices and the several steps needed to access and reset factory settings. For example, the team extracted web history information from the used laptops, such as eBay listings visited, search queries in Google and YouTube, Facebook pictures, Facebook chat messages, Facebook status updates and wall posts, as well as Internet Explorer cookies. They also found that tablets contained the most residual, sensitive data, such as: Amazon, Apple, eBay and Gmail user-names and passwords and more than 3,500 previously deleted photos.
Our gadgets are not only valuable technology items, but they has also have a huge data protection problem. There are a number of ways businesses can get rid of used technology devices, but they should be mindful of the risks that may follow when buying and selling used devices.
Selling your old technology devices
Tip – Every electronic device you intend to hand over to an untrusted, unknown person needs to be completely and irrecoverably erased before you give it to them
Be safe and clean up before you let it out of your sight. Please remember that deleting files and formatting hard disks and USB sticks is NOT ENOUGH. To make sure no one gets your personal data, you need to think about “erasing data” and not deleting it. Apple has information in their support here. Android devices have an erase function in “Backup and Reset” or “Settings/Privacy.” Be sure to check your device manufacturer website for information.
Buying used technology devices
Tip – If you buy second-hand equipment, erase it yourself before you start using it so you know it’s clean and not contaminated
Business owners buying used technology need to ask – is there residual malware or other harmful software on the device that could negatively affect my business? Is the equipment going to be in the condition that the seller claims?
Throwing old technology devices away IT away
Tip – If you’re throwing away old phones, hard disks, USB sticks, DVDs, etc. erase or destroy them first
You never know who might pick them up and start using them. If the device gets into the wrong hands, businesses could expose priceless intellectual property, personal identifiable information or other confidential data.
Recycling old technology devices
Tip – If you’re sending your device off to a recycler, remember to wipe it first
Even if you’re not willing to take the risk of selling your IT devices and not willing to just throw it in the trash, think about donating or recycling. There are even companies, such as NextWorth, that will buy used devices from you.
With limited budgets, time and resources, SMBs often tend to overlook the importance of a well-rounded security solution and are a key target for cyber attackers. Small businesses should always protect their network and all of their devices by deploying security solutions to protect themselves, their business and their customers. Specifically, when buying or selling used devices SMBs should:
Ensure any discount outlets they use implement full encryption across all aspects of their customer data
Confirm they do not store credit card information in the same database as customer data
Verify that discount outlets and digital channels digitally shred customer data once the transaction is completed
Require all employees to use their business systems passwords for work purposes ONLY
Incorporate web and application firewalls into security strategy
About the Author
Simon Hunt is CTO for Endpoint Security at McAfee. Part of Intel Security, @CTOGoneWild