R. Fink | Pushing the e-waste envelope

The Packet Rat'commentary

The Packet Rat

Michael Bechetti

THE RAT has been thinking a lot lately about e-waste ' mostly in reaction to the ever-growing stack of deceased desktop PCs and servers accumulating in the cubicle next to his.

And with that stack of systems comes a growing security concern: how to make sure no data from that toxic artificial reef of hard drives reaches the eyes of anyone who shouldn't see it.

'Heaven forbid the documents and spreadsheets on these disks should fall into the wrong hands,' the cyberrodent said to his facilities manager as yet another retired box was deposited in the digital elephant burial ground. 'That could set someone back years in their understanding of agency policy.'

The Rat has looked at a number of options for dealing with recycling his old hardware and disposing properly of the data on them. The problem is that recycling the drives for reuse seems to be a pointless exercise.

'So I erase these 1G drives with eight-pass rewrites, and then what?' he sighed to his security manager. 'Put them in a box labeled 'Free to a good home'? My digital camera has more storage than these things do.'

As he mulled this question, he received a package a friend had thoughtfully forwarded to him.

It was a sizable box sent by Express Mail containing the media kit for a new hard-drive destruction system from eDR Solutions.

He expected it might include the sort of thing usually found in such kits. Last year, Salesforce.com sent him a press kit with chocolates in the heat of August, and the results weren't pretty. 'Nothing says 'software as a service' like a puddle of brown goo smeared across a press release,' he reflected with a roll of his eyes.

However, the kind folks at eDR had sent him something very practical ' a crushed hard drive showing how effectively their system had destroyed the drive and the data on it. In other words, they had Express Mailed him more e-waste to deal with.

'So they spent at least 10 bucks to mail me toxic trash?' He scratched his ear, baffled. 'Now I'm stuck with handling this e-waste on top of'.' His eyes suddenly sparkled with the seed of an idea.

'I wonder what the postage is for mailing a mini tower.'

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