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How to protect your brand from a data breach

large brand data breach logos

The value of your brand is simple: the earned customer trust encourages repeat sales. All that product development, marketing, service and quality result in market strength and pricing power — people are willing to pay for your brand. And it takes years, sometimes decades, to build up that clout. Your market knows you. They trust you. They want you. All good. 

When a data breach occurs, brand reputation damage is instantaneous and brutal to market share and sales. And recovery is always painful and slow. Now you’re doubled up with marketing, service and quality to show that you’re sorry and making amends. No matter what new privacy structures are put in place, you’re heading back into sales and marketing territory that you had already conquered.

Why is this situation ridiculous?

Because most of the time, the small investment in the end of life planning for data-loaded technology products (laptops, tablets, smart phones, USB drives, servers, even smart point-of-sale devices – POS) could have prevented the whole scenario. That’s right, for a fraction of the recovery backpedaling cost and finger pointing time and kowtowing bravado, you could have just avoided a painful data breach completely.

Revealing numbers that reveal real risk

With more and more hard drives, computers, and smart devices bought every day, much of the old IT equipment is nonchalantly tossed in a closet or a drawer when they fail or run out of room. This equipment is just waiting to be hacked. 

In fact, 30% of data leakages happen because discarded IT equipment still has valuable data on it. And the wrong person finds it. That’s right. Important data is just hanging out waiting for the wrong guy (who is probably looking for it by the way, not just accidentally tripping over it) to discover. Giant. Mistake. 

And, it’s not just old or outdated “junk” in a drawer or closet. Servers are being replaced and cloud migration (and IoT) is exploding. Often there’s still valuable and confidential data on those discarded drives, media and devices. 

It’s hard to believe but a recent National Association for Information Destruction (NAID) study shows that a whopping 40% percent of electronic devices resold in the secondhand market contained personally identifiable information (PII). CPR Tools CEO John Benkert notes, “Auction, resell and recycling sites have created a convenient revenue stream in used devices; however, the real value is in the data that the public unintentionally leaves behind.”  It doesn’t take a mathematician to calculate that 40% of millions of recycled devices out there is the perfect storm for shady and opportunist people (and organizations).

Don’t believe us? Look at the logos we’ve included. Each of these brands are still recovering from a preventable data breach that has affected their reputation greatly.

Risk and reputation prevention

How do you thwart anyone combing through your corporate castoffs looking for anything of value? And finding it? It’s actually pretty easy.

Talk to your IT equipment VAR or ITAD.

That’s it. Once they understand your concerns, they’ll work with you to ensure that the data on your equipment is thoroughly destroyed so that you have peace of mind. The objective is to develop a master program that is built into your technology deployment nationwide that addresses your company’s and industry’s data compliance rules and regulations. There are programs for hard drives, remote worker laptops, USB drives, mobile phones, data centers, shared server farms — even smart printers that have hard drives. Whether it’s pulverizing, degaussing, erasure or shredding, your equipment supplier will hammer out a data destruction plan that makes your PR people, IT folks, legal team and risk management staff happy. 

The takeaway

Whether your equipment is a lease return or pallets of relics bound for recycling, there’s an asset disposition plan that can eliminate your risk of a data breach. If you have locations and people scattered around the world or are a single spot, that’s included in the plan too. And, as your workforce and enterprise model change, you can adapt your IT asset lifecycle to keep the same level of data protection. 

And your brand remains unsullied from something silly. Huzzah!

Need some help? Don’t have a VAR or ITAD for your asset disposition plan? Reach out to us for assistance of any kind. And, download our free Data Destruction 101 Guide here.

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