Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Addressing the E-Waste Crisis – Strategies for Data Asset Lifecycle Management

By Prangya Pandab - September 05, 2022 4 Mins Read

Businesses can act responsibly and join the fight against e-waste by prioritizing sustainability in their asset and data lifecycle policies and management.

The demand for connectivity and devices to enable the shift to a remote workplace has increased significantly during the last two years. Organizations were often compelled to make hasty purchases of new and refurbished devices to support employees who worked remotely. The fact that so many organizations are sending employees back to the office now presents some new challenges. And after months and years of storing files on desktops, etc., what happens to the customer and business data that may be present on these devices?

Companies must act quickly to establish strategies and processes to deal with these issues.

The serious effects of disposing of used IT assets in landfills, including the harm to the environment and climate change, should be taken into account by organizations when updating their asset management plans.

E-waste Is Now a Crisis of Epic proportions

As the conversation around climate change intensifies, e-waste is a topic that is often disregarded. However, the amount of e-waste, which includes everything from old gaming consoles and remote controls to desktops and laptops, is reaching crisis levels.

To truly address the issue of e-waste, governments and private industries must work together globally. Additionally, businesses can act ethically and implement better practices for handling end-of-life assets, such as refraining from throwing away outdated and defective equipment in landfills.

As employees begin shifting back to the office, businesses can address their data and IT asset lifecycles by prioritizing the following three areas:

Establish Sustainable Practices to Increase the Lifespan of the Devices

Due to a lack of awareness about more environmentally friendly options, many businesses think destroying assets is the best and most affordable option. Companies can support the circular economy by developing policies focusing on e-waste, donating used but functional equipment to educational institutions and non-profits, or selling used equipment for its components after securely removing all company and customer data.

Because of a lack of knowledge about alternatives, such as e-recycling and data sanitization, perfectly usable equipment and devices are often physically destroyed. However, from a social impact and environmental perspective, it is crucial to reuse or donate the equipment. Recycling hardware makes computers cheaper for non-profits, educational institutions, and other groups while generating sustainable employment in the refurbishment industry.

Establish a Culture of Better Cyber Hygiene

Companies should take into account the security ramifications of processing end-of-life devices as they develop a top-down, bottom-up company culture that values being good corporate citizens. To prevent the worst-case scenario of a data breach, the data on that device must be permanently deleted before it can be reprocessed, donated, or recycled.

Companies in highly regulated industries like healthcare and finance, which are subject to a plethora of rules and regulations, should take every precaution to protect sensitive and important customer and business data. Companies can better address the asset and data lifecycle by appointing an executive to manage the process.

Data Management Policies Must Be Updated 

As organizations struggle with the extra laptops, PCs, and other devices bought during the pandemic, they need to take into account the chain of custody of these assets. A lost or stolen laptop could jeopardize adherence to data privacy laws and regulations, and in the event of a data breach, putting the company at risk of fines or worse. Companies can have peace of mind knowing that whatever data was on the device is now unrecoverable by establishing a policy that requires every device, whether it is intended for reuse or disposal, to be remotely erased and sanitized of all company data, before it leaves the employee’s remote office. A certificate of erasure can help ensure that the data chain of custody is unbroken once an asset has been sanitized.

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AUTHOR

Prangya Pandab

Prangya Pandab is an Associate Editor with OnDot Media. She is a seasoned journalist with almost seven years of experience in the business news sector. Before joining ODM, she was a journalist with CNBC-TV18 for four years. She also had a brief stint with an infrastructure finance company working for their communications and branding vertical.

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