Archive for August, 2013

Data Destruction: Learning from the NHS Surrey’s data breach scandal

Over at the Guardian UK, there’s a great article on what public and private agencies can learn from the recent data breach scandal in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).

According to the Guardian, NHS Surrey was fined £200,000 last month by data regulators after losing sensitive information about 3,000 patients. Turns out they failed to check that the data destruction company charged with getting the computers ready for recycling had properly destroyed the records. The data destruction company passed on data (via Ebay), believing that crushing hard drives was enough to permanently erase the NHS computers.

Approaching the news as a lesson, author Moradeyo Komolafe offers up three things that businesses can do right now to avoid this type of data breach.

1. If the hardware is functioning, buy reputable erasure software:

This is software that meets government data deletion standards. It will permanently wipe all traces of data, and can be bought and downloaded online. The better erasure software not only permanently wipes all traces of data, but also provides erasure verification reports and a detailed audit trail for legal compliance.

2. For non-functioning computers, buy or rent a degausser to eliminate data

3. If a DIY solution is not an option, find a reliable asset disposal services:

A Google search will reveal many companies offering their services, but finding a reliable one requires you to ask the company if it employs engineers for the job and whether they have security clearance accredited by recognised bodies. Also ask the supplier to provide references or case studies for erasure products and services.

The NHS Surrey scandal is a reminder to organisations that if company data isn’t destroyed during the asset disposal or recycling process, even after it has left the organisation, they will still be in breach of the Data Protection Act. For the sake of the organisation’s reputation and the safety of employees – and in some cases patients – make sure the data deletion process is done properly and completed professionally.

Speaking of reliable asset disposal service, PCS of Massachusetts is ready and willing to help you recycle your electronics and destroy your data


08 2013

Big Data is Here to Stay, for Better or Worse

The fine folks over at Science Daily have an interesting look at big data analyzation methods and what impact the technology may have in the future.

A full 90% of all the data in the world has been generated over the last two years. The internet companies are awash with data that can be grouped and utilised. Is this a good thing?

According to Petter Bae Brandtzæg of SINTEF ICT,  companies such as Facebook and Google are the biggest producers of data. The advantage, he says, is the ‘enormous volume of data that other social researchers could only dream of.'” And, of course, this data is already being scrutinized heavily, he says.

Brandtzæg has investigated a tool called Wisdom developed by the American-based company MicroStrategy, and has started applying it in the delTA-project which addresses young people’s social activity on the internet.

‘This gives me access to data about over 20 million people — without making a single inquiry. I can analyse different preferences on Facebook and look at age and gender differences between various groups and nations across the world. So far I have compared gender differences in social activity on Facebook between people in Norway, Spain, England, USA, Russia, Egypt, India and China.’

Don’t freak out quite yet. According to Brandtzæg, data from Wisdom is restricted to large groups and does not go down to ‘individual level’. This makes it possible for him to compare large groups without any data protection problems. For the full article, head over to Science Daily.

If you’d like to check out our data destruction services at PCS of Massachusetts, starting with hard-drive shredding click here.


08 2013

Big Data Visualized: 90% of the World’s Data…

…was created in the past two years. Information company Elexio created this handy infographic to highlight that interesting fact and illustrate some other influences of big data on everything from churches, politics and science.


If you’d like to check out our data destruction services at PCS of Massachusetts, starting with hard-drive shredding click here.



08 2013

Data Destruction: NHS Computers with Patient Data sold on Ebay

hard disk grindingJust last week, SkyNews out of London reported an NHS (National Health Service) trust has been fined £200,000 by a UK data watchdog after it sold an old computer which contained the personal details of more than 3,000 patients.

According to SkyNews the sensitive information was left on the computer sold by a data destruction company employed by NHS Surrey.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) was tipped off after a member of the public bought the second-hand computer online. Sky News understands that some of the PCs were sold on the internet auction site eBay.

The company had been employed by NHS Surrey since March 2010 to wipe and destroy its old computer equipment.

The company carried out the service for free, with an agreement that they could sell any salvageable materials after the hard drives had been securely destroyed.

According to the report, the organisation collected the computer and found confidential sensitive personal data and HR records, including patient records relating to approximately 900 adults and 2000 children.

The watchdog added: “After being alerted to the problem, NHS Surrey managed to reclaim a further 39 computers sold by the trading arm of their new data destruction provider.

“Ten of these computers were found to have previously belonged to NHS Surrey; three of which still contained sensitive personal data.”

The ICO’s investigation found that NHS Surrey had no contract in place with their new provider, which clearly explained the provider’s legal requirements under the Data Protection Act, and failed to observe and monitor the data destruction process. The data destruction company was unable to trace where the several more computers ended up, or confirm how many might still contain personal data.

There’s tons more over at SkyNews, for the full story head over there.

If you’d like to check out our data destruction services at PCS of Massachusetts, starting with hard-drive shredding click here.



08 2013

DIY E-waste project ideas

DIY E-waste project ideas [Infographic] via MNN/Metrofax

Just a few fun ideas for all the electronic recyclers out there. For the full post from Metrofax click here.


08 2013