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Certified Data Destruction Protects Clients, Allows Recovery Of Value From Old IT Equipment

The security of any data on old, worn-out, or obsolete IT equipment must be protected to prevent customers from suffering the expanse of a breach in the data, but alternatives to physical destruction can help monetize that old equipment.

Rather than simply toss or recycle used IT equipment, solution providers with a little work can find value in that equipment, as long as they are careful when it comes to ensuring it is first carefully scrubbed of important business data.

Both distributor Tech Data and data erasure specialist Blancco made the case to solution providers and MSPs at this week's NexGen 2018 Conference and Expo in Anaheim, Calif., that obsolete or non-working IT equipment still has value to channel partners and their customers.

Hank Meisinger, director of business development for Tech Data's global lifecycle management services, admitted that handling end-of-life processes for IT equipment is not a sexy part of the business, but it is extremely important beyond simply helping eliminate the 50 million tons of products that end up as e-waste each year.

[Related: 20 Hot Products And Services Solution Providers Need To Know]

The bigger issue, Meisinger said, is the potential cost to a client if data is pulled from devices the client no longer needs. This includes risk of damaging the business' brand if private data is leaked, and could also lead to massive fines of up to 4 percent of a company's annual revenue under the new GDPR, or General Data Protection Regulation, rules in Europe, he said.

On the other hand, there is simple economics involved as that equipment may have value either for parts or components or for recycling, Meisinger said. He cited estimates of up to $62 billion in potential value for re-used and re-purposed IT equipment.

"A lot of value comes out of this," he said. "It's end-of-life for one customer, but valuable to another."

The default way of handling used equipment has been to destroy it with huge shredders, Meisinger said. "[Customers] have been paying for a service they should be making money doing," he said.

It is important to find a good partner to help with IT equipment end-of-life asset disposal, and Meisinger said his company, Tech Data, is one such company which meets all four criteria for safe disposal.

These include having certified programs for safe handling of e-waste, and IT asset disposal system that is compliant with all security regulations, a simple process for managing the work, and expertise to ensure the customer and partner gets the right value from the equipment, he said.

"If you are a company that has positioned yourself with a consulting approach … adding lifecycle services is a good place to start," he said.

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When it comes to safely scrubbing data from end-of-life IT equipment, Tech Data works with Blancco, a Finnish provider of software that is certified by over 100 regulatory organizations for safely erasing data, Meisinger said.

Jordan Randall, senior channel manager for Blancco, told channel partners that the ability to not only securely erase data on old IT equipment but to certify that the data was destroyed and provide an audit trail of that data destruction is growing increasingly important.

With GDPR, for instance, a business can face a huge fine in addition to other losses if data entrusted to them is not secured, Randall said.

That includes U.S.-based businesses if they store data on European Union citizens, he said. Furthermore, California is leading the way in the U.S., and being followed by an additional 29 states, with similar requirements that are now pending in state legislatures.

"We have to show proof of erasure, and this is an opportunity for you," he said.

Customers and partners looking to get monetary value from old IT equipment need to find a way to safely ensure data is first erased, Randall said. "We have to find a way to sanitize these assets … and monetize them," he said.

Another example where erasure is important is getting warranty work done on physical storage devices such as hard drives, Randall said. Often, an device manufacturer may refuse to accept the return of a hard drive with data on it because of regulatory concerns.

Using Blancoo's software, a business can erase sensitive data on part of the drive while not impacting the drive's functionality after it is repaired, all while having available an audit trail that proves the data could not be compromised, he said.

That, he said, beats destroying a hard drive and eliminating the possibility of later selling it for hundreds of dollars.

"I want to challenge you guys to look at alternatives, and not just at asset destruction," he said.

Norm Shockley, CEO of Aplena, a Campbell, Calif.-based solution provider, said asset disposal is an essential part of his company's data center relocation and consolidation business.

The security of assets is critical, and most customers think the answer is crushing and shredding the equipment, Shockley told CRN. However, he said, with technology like that offered by Blancco, it may be possible to help customers understand that data can be certified as safely destroyed, he said.

"We can then write in their security policies that they can reuse the assets or resell them," he said. "Most customers, in their services agreements, specify that old equipment must be physically destroyed. Financial companies may specify that the destruction take place right in their data center cages. Instead, we can take technology like this, find out who at the customer has the final say over disposal, and convince them they can get value from the equipment."

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