Archive for April, 2014

Safeguarding Data: Shred or delete these financial documents

Jeff Jaffe has a great rundown of what to get rid of this year after your taxes are done. Just call it mid-Spring cleaning. You can check out the full article here at the Enterprise. In addition to shredding documents with sensitive materials and information, Jaffe recommends being as vigilant with your computer files.

While getting rid of or changing electronic data doesn’t have the same visceral thrill of shredding the enemy into little bits, literally, it’s a challenge that most consumers need to take on, particularly in light of the Heartbleed bug, which taught us that threats can be sudden and come from nowhere even if initial scares over how much data is vulnerable might be overblown.

Jaffe says that most people keep too much paperwork/information around mostly because they don’t know what to get rid of and don’t have a plan to trim the excess. He offers up a list of forms and files you should examine when trying to rid your self of clutter.

Tax records:

Unless you’re filing fraudulent returns – for which there is no statute of limitations – reduce income tax returns into several stacks of paperwork

Old tax returns – especially those covering the purchase or sale of property – can be important for compiling future returns, possibly decades into the future. Thus, keeping the return documents in perpetuity is prudent, though not necessary when returns are decades old and several residences in the past; most tax preparers keep copies of your documents for the life of your advisory relationship, so you may have back-up there too.

“Support documents” – the receipts, bills and tax forms on which you based your tax math – must be kept for three years after a return is due. Purge the bulging pile of stuff from the 2010 return (filed in 2011, so the three-year holding period has passed).

Investment papers: Due to rules changes phased in since 2011, brokerage houses now provide cost information on stock purchases, mutual funds, options, bonds and other securities.

Don’t be too quick to shred old trading confirmations, however. Financial-services firms had to establish/maintain records beginning the year the rules went into effect (so 2011 for stocks, 2012 for mutual funds, etc.). Until you know the firm’s records are correct and complete, keep your trade confirmations.

Do, however, shred investment papers you don’t need. Year-end statements show all transactions for the year, allowing you to discard all monthly/quarterly documents except that year-ender.

Pay stubs, bank statements, canceled checks and consumer bills/receipts:

Your last paystub is useful for cross-checking your employer’s tax reporting, getting the value of donations made through payroll deductions and, depending on circumstances, recording the amount of money you paid for health-care coverage; all the rest – provided you got what you are entitled to and there are no disputes with your employer – have no value whatsoever.

Canceled checks today generally are mini images on a bank statement. You don’t need to keep records showing that you bought groceries or made a co-pay at the doctor’s office in 2010 or, worse, 1997. You should have clipped images with tax ramifications, making them part of your support documentation.

Old credit-card statements, utility bills, department-store and service-station charge card bills and the alike also get shredded in most circumstances. Anything covering tax-deductible expenses – like your electric bill if you have an office at home and deduct utility costs – gets treated like a support document.

Documents stored on electronic devices:

The rules here are the same – don’t keep things you don’t need – but also be sure your platform is secure. “A lot of people now use apps where they take pictures of documents with their smart phone and it scans them, and they store the documents, but they still have the pictures on their smart phone,” said Becky Frost, senior manager of consumer education, Experian Consumer Services. “You may not worry about clutter the way you do with paper documents, but you do have to worry about safety and identity theft.”

Passwords:

Consider this spring maintenance rather than “spring cleaning,” but several surveys have shown that at least two-thirds of people never change passwords or use one password for all accounts.

If you’re looking for a RELIABLE and RESPONSIBLE asset disposal service, PCS of Massachusetts is ready and willing to help you recycle your electronics and destroy your data.  PC Survivors of Massachusetts, L.L.C.  (R2) Certified,  86 Finnell Drive Unit 6,Weymouth, MA 02188 /Cell: 781-635-6281 /Office: 781-335-1220 / Fax: 781-335-1499 / www.pcsmass.com

30

04 2014

News: What Heartbleed can teach businesses about information security

There’s a great article over at Business Daily looking into the after effects of the Heartbleed bug and what it can teach business about data security.

There can be very few comparisons between historically global IT security incidents and vulnerabilities that come anywhere near to the shadowy, anxiety-provoking spotlight that is now shining firmly on the arena of information security. The impact of the OpenSSL bug known as Heartbleed – made became public on the 7th April 2014 and officially documented as bug CVE-2014-0160 – has reached far and wide since it went public on 7th April 2014. One of the most fundamental backbones of security on the Internet has been dealt a severe confidence blow.

While a lot of the security issues come down to areas of IT, software and coding, proper data destruction is also highlighted as an important area of interest and learning.

One of the most concerning facts revealed through the Heartbleed vulnerability is that it is impossible to detect if a particular service has been attached or exploited. The lack of logs and signs of this intrusion means there is no way of knowing if confidential data has indeed been leaked.

Analysis of the reliance on largely trusted security mechanisms that provide such potential risk to personal data if exposed must be considered, including identification of whether certain data should really only be protected by one layer of security in the first place. While in the case of Heartbleed there is no way of knowing first-hand whether critical data was leaked, responsibility must be in place to ensure proper auditing of personal data.

But in learning the lessons of the Heartbleed fallout, the data destruction should be an authenticated and provable event since as full disclosure when this possible increases confidence levels.

The collective concern of businesses worldwide about never knowing whether their client’s data leaked should foster determination of hardening areas that can be hardened with multiple layers of encryption mechanisms, wherever possible.

We at PC Survivors of Massachusetts can help you with any and all of your data destruction needs. For more information just click here. 

If you’re looking for a RELIABLE and RESPONSIBLE asset disposal service, PCS of Massachusetts is ready and willing to help you recycle your electronics and destroy your data.  PC Survivors of Massachusetts, L.L.C.  (R2) Certified,  86 Finnell Drive Unit 6,Weymouth, MA 02188 /Cell: 781-635-6281 /Office: 781-335-1220 / Fax: 781-335-1499 / www.pcsmass.com

30

04 2014

Recycling: Will You Be a Part of the Problem or the Solution

There’s a very interesting article over at PC Magazine called ‘ Are You Part of the E-Waste Problem or the Solution?’. Published to commemorate Earth Day (April 22), author Ibrahim Abdul-Matin calls on consumers to find out the specifics of proper recycling practices.

He asks, “what is your relationship to the planet? Do you know where the basic components of the items you use every day come from? Are you aware of the full life cycle of your products? Do you know where your batteries and other toxic materials land when you’re through with them? If you do not, then today, Earth Day, is the day to figure it out.”

Abdul-Matin also asks readers to self evaulate, adding the problem of e-waste isn’t going away anytime soon.

There are those who deny the existence of a problem. Second, there are those who exist in a constant state of fear, bombarding everyone with doomsday scenarios. Third, there are those who recognize a problem and seek to find a solution.

When Earth Day started we were just beginning to understand the power of computing in the popular imagination. Early innovators were fascinated by Moore’s Law. Now, as we inch closer and closer to singularity we have to wonder – how far are we getting from the planet that has traditionally sustained us? The reality is that the tech community is a critical part of the solution – as much as it is part of the problem.

There’s another PC article here, detailing ‘How to Recycle Your Technology.’

The best thing to do with this growing accumulation of old electronic equipment is to donate or recycle it. Donate your old computers and phones whenever you can to groups that will fix and clean them up and then put them back to good use. Even the oldest computer, something you consider the most obsolete of digital dinosaurs, can probably be used by someone.

If you’re looking for a RELIABLE and RESPONSIBLE asset disposal service, PCS of Massachusetts is ready and willing to help you recycle your electronics and destroy your data.  PC Survivors of Massachusetts, L.L.C.  (R2) Certified,  86 Finnell Drive Unit 6,Weymouth, MA 02188 /Cell: 781-635-6281 /Office: 781-335-1220 / Fax: 781-335-1499 / www.pcsmass.com

29

04 2014

Earth Day 2014 is on April 22

Earth Day is celebrated globally this month and there’s a ton of things you can do to show you care about the earth. Check out the full list of Earth Day pledges you can make here.  Properly recycling your e-waste is also a big part of the green push. Did you know that more than 50 million tons of electronic waste (e-waste) is generated each year in the U.S. alone and that only 20-25% of the waste is responsibly recycled?

As a direct consequence, large amounts of hazardous materials such as lead, mercury, and cadmium leach into our air and water, contaminating our communities. Help end this dangerous practice by pledging to recycle your e-waste in a safe and responsible manner.

If you’re looking for a RELIABLE and RESPONSIBLE asset disposal service, PCS of Massachusetts is ready and willing to help you recycle your electronics and destroy your data.  PC Survivors of Massachusetts, L.L.C.  (R2) Certified,  86 Finnell Drive Unit 6,Weymouth, MA 02188 /Cell: 781-635-6281 /Office: 781-335-1220 / Fax: 781-335-1499 / www.pcsmass.com

09

04 2014

News: How Do U.S. Computers End Up in Ghana

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the U.S. produces 300 million tons of electronic waste annually, according to an RT.com video.  Americans frequently upgrade their TVs, cell phones, computers and other electronic devices. About 80 percent of that ends up in domestic landfills or is recycled overseas, according to the report.

Disposing of e-waste legally and responsibly has been a political and a practical headache for years and a growing appetite for electronics around the world is only fueling the problem.

If you’re looking for a RELIABLE and RESPONSIBLE asset disposal service, PCS of Massachusetts is ready and willing to help you recycle your electronics and destroy your data.  PC Survivors of Massachusetts, L.L.C.  (R2) Certified,  86 Finnell Drive Unit 6,Weymouth, MA 02188 /Cell: 781-635-6281 /Office: 781-335-1220 / Fax: 781-335-1499 / www.pcsmass.com

09

04 2014

News: 50m tons of e-waste generated every year in the UK

It’s not breaking news that e-waste numbers have been steadily rising, but it a bit shocking to read that in the UK 50 million tons of e-waste is currently being generated every year. In addition, researchers are convinced the number will continue to rise.

In an article over at the Guardian this week, writer Duncan Jeffries spoke with the Electronics TakeBack Coalition (ETBC), a group of organisations that promote green design and responsible recycling in the electronics industry.

“We’re buying more, getting rid of it [more quickly] and design changes are, in some ways, making recycling even more challenging,” says Barbara Kyle, the ETBC’s UK co-ordinator.

In fact, only around 13% of the e-waste generated each year is recycled. The increasing amounts of digital tech brought by middle-class consumers in China, India and Africa is a growing part of the problem. If the trend continues, the annual amount of global e-waste will be 65m tonnes by 2017, according to the STEP initiative (also known as solving the e-waste problem). Couple this with shortages of some rare earth metals and other resources from mining operations, and it is clear that something needs to change.

Part of the solution involves “closing the loop”, which in this context means reclaiming and reusing valuable materials from discarded devices in an ethical, environmentally friendly way.

Environmental Protection Agency figures suggest that recycling 1m mobile phones could recover 50 pounds of gold, 550 pounds of silver, 20 pounds of palladium and more than 20,000 pounds of copper. All of which helps to make the case for “urban mining”, reclaiming some of these valuable resources from the mountains of digital junk already out there.

If you’re looking for a reliable asset disposal service, PCS of Massachusetts is ready and willing to help you recycle your electronics and destroy your data.  PC Survivors of Massachusetts, L.L.C.  (R2) Certified,  86 Finnell Drive Unit 6,Weymouth, MA 02188 /Cell: 781-635-6281 /Office: 781-335-1220 / Fax: 781-335-1499 / www.pcsmass.com

09

04 2014

News: R2 and BAN clarify stances on CRT management

Recycling industry certification bodies R2 Solutions and Basel Action Network (BAN) released formal clarifications last week on the way certified firms may handle CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) glass.

Issuing a formal rule clarification on March 26, R2 announced board members unanimously moved to ban the use of CRT glass as alternative daily cover (ADC) under the new iteration of the certification. R2 executive director John Lingelbach confirmed there are now no instances in which an R2-certified facility can use CRTs as ADC.

“There are viable downstream options for the subset of CRT glass that top-performing, R2-certified recyclers are processing,” Lingelbach said.

BAN, which administers the e-Stewards certification, issued its own rule clarification today.

Emphasizing the challenges smaller recyclers face in paying for the proper downstream processing of CRT glass, BAN reaffirmed its stance that CRT-to-ADC actions do not constitute recycling but can be “used as a last resort” for disposal by its members.

“We believe that at this juncture where the market is already dangerously constricted, any further prohibitions should only be considered if they are based on sound science and a life-cycle approach examining all significant environmental and social impacts,” the release reads. It also states that the group is engaged in “a science-based review of global CRT management practices” and will be reviewing the definition of “as a last resort” as used in the e-Stewards certification language.

The downstream processor likely to be most affected by R2’s ban on the practice of using CRTs as ADC is Kuusakoski U.S. Through a partnership with Peoria Disposal Company (PDC), Kuusakoski runs a CRT-to-ADC operation in Peoria, Illinois and has hopes to process up to 50,000 tons of glass every year for the next decade.

Kuusakoski’s Philadelphia facility is both R2 and e-Stewards certified. However, the company’s Peoria, Illinois facility, which is actively involved in the ADC operation, is not certified to either standard.

Lingelbach told E-Scrap News R2 Solutions and Kuusakoski held a conference call on Thursday, but he said the certification status of Kuusakoski’s Philadelphia facility was not discussed. Kuusakoski’s Anssi Takala clarified with E-Scrap News its Philadelphia facility can operate as a transfer hub for CRTs bound for Illinois but “our target is that customers with CRT glass or intact CRT devices ship it directly Peoria.”

In addition, Takala told E-Scrap News the recycling firm and PDC “respectfully disagree” with the R2 clarification. “We have shared our concerns with R2 concerning its press release, and have challenged them to provide more information to the public that supports its decision on the viability question,” Takala said. “Furthermore, we have agreed to furnish additional information to R2 on this matter.”

According to a Kuusakoski white paper released last fall, aside from Kuusakoski, there are only three North American final recovery options for U.S. glass in North America. The paper also states annual glass supply far oustrips the industry’s ability to handle the challenging material.

The paper advances the key argument that high levels of lead found in the funnel glass portion of CRTs are essentially locked within the glass by the technology employed by Kuusakoski and PDC, ensuring that it will not leach once used as ADC at landfills.

If you’re looking for a reliable asset disposal service, PCS of Massachusetts is ready and willing to help you recycle your electronics and destroy your data.  PC Survivors of Massachusetts, L.L.C.  (R2) Certified,  86 Finnell Drive Unit 6,Weymouth, MA 02188 /Cell: 781-635-6281 /Office: 781-335-1220 / Fax: 781-335-1499 / www.pcsmass.com

07

04 2014

News: Federal Government Hints at E-Scrap Data Disclosure

During a Congressional electronics recycling hearing last week, a government official said federal agencies may soon be required to publicly report how they are disposing of end-of-life electronics, a development that could have significant implications for the data-starved e-scrap industry.

The remarks came from Kevin Kampschroer, a senior sustainability officer at the U.S. General Services Agency (GSA), during a Senate committee meeting that aimed to develop ideas on how the federal government can more effectively recycle end-of-life electronics. The federal government is the nation’s single largest generator of used electronics material.

“GSA, working with other federal agencies, is considering a policy that will include a requirement for agencies to submit data for all disposed electronics,” Kampschroer said in testimony before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. “This data, which could be publicly available on Data.gov, would provide greater transparency into federal agencies’ performance against the goals of the [National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship].”

Though Kampschroer stopped short of outlining the specifics or timeline for such a policy, the mere mention of federal government e-scrap data caught the attention of industry leaders, including one e-scrap executive who was sitting across the room.

Since 2012, federal agencies have followed a GSA policy that encourages reuse of electronics when possible and bans those items from landfills at end-of-life. The policy, which was crafted in response to an executive order from President Obama, directs agencies to route old electronics to e-scrap recycling firms certified to R2 or e-Stewards standards. But no formal process exists to check that the guidelines are actually being followed.

If you’re looking for a reliable asset disposal service, PCS of Massachusetts is ready and willing to help you recycle your electronics and destroy your data.  PC Survivors of Massachusetts, L.L.C.  (R2) Certified,  86 Finnell Drive Unit 6,Weymouth, MA 02188 /Cell: 781-635-6281 /Office: 781-335-1220 / Fax: 781-335-1499 / www.pcsmass.com

07

04 2014

PC Survivors of Mass. co-sponsors Wounded Nature cleanup

PCS of Mass. is supporting U.S. veterans and the environment in one fell swoop. We’re co-sponsoring a Wounded Nature cleanup boat this year. The boat is staffed with veterans and will travel along the East Coast, kicking off their trip in Charleston, South Carolina.

WoundedNature.org is an IRS approved 501c3 non-profit charity serving to clean up the environment employing veterans reentering the civilian workforce. The organization only raises money through donations, memberships, sponsorships, and grants.WoundedNature.org has minimum overhead and funds raised annually go directly to fund the mission and operation of Wounded Nature, the houseboats.

(PCS of Mass. has American Pride)

In the summer of 2014 the houseboats will move up the East Coast. As the ship moves north it will be docked at the closest large port each month as employees return home for their days off. In general, our employees will work for 20 straight days and have 10 days off each month. Workers will be bused or flown between their home port and the ship’s current work location.

Employing Veterans

Wounded Nature hires prequalified unemployed veterans through the Veterans Administration’s job assistance program.  These workers are hired as temporary workers for 120 days.

The veterans will spend the first two days being trained about boat life, safety rules, and clean-up procedures. According to the website, veterans learn to regain confidence as they participate in public relations and educational events as paid employees and members of the Wounded Nature staff.

Each veteran will perform a number of tasks exposing them to a number of disciplines. These disciplines include manual labor, environmental remediation, wildlife rescue, maintenance, ship and boat handling, public relations, community relations, social media marketing, event planning and hosting, cooking, marine research, etc.

Our program allows veterans to earn a paycheck while performing a wide variety of tasks over a short period of time. This will help our veterans focus their job hunting or attend college and choose an area of study in a discipline with which they have found an interest or comfort zone.

Italian Cowboy Harry James boat

As we announced before, we’re teaming up to become honorary crew members for the new Italian Cowboy Harry James sponsored coastal cleanup boat.

As a National Guard veteran and someone who cares deeply about the environment, Harry and his team were looking for a way to give back and make the world a better place.  When Harry James heard that Wounded Nature and Working Veterans needed to purchase 5 cleanup boats that would be staff by veterans, he contacted the non-profit immediately and said “what can we do to get one of your boats funded?”

And that’s where PC Survivors of Mass. stepped in. We’re proud to support veterans as well as do our part to take care of the environment.

If you’re looking for a reliable asset disposal service, PCS of Massachusetts is ready and willing to help you recycle your electronics and destroy your data.  PC Survivors of Massachusetts, L.L.C.  (R2) Certified,  86 Finnell Drive Unit 6,Weymouth, MA 02188 /Cell: 781-635-6281 /Office: 781-335-1220 / Fax: 781-335-1499 / www.pcsmass.com

01

04 2014