Avoid Identity Theft by Improving Cell Phone Data Security

More than 11.6 million adults are the victim of identity theft every year. Meanwhile, as a business, you have an ethical obligation to your customers and employees to protect their information.

A1 Assets Data SecuritySmartphones have ushered in a new era of technology where the power of a computer is always at the user’s fingertips. Because American work culture demands more hours on the go, many individuals access information relating to both their professional and personal lives on the same mobile device, including but not limited to, phone numbers, addresses, bank statements, email, images, event calendars, social media, utility bills, Internet history, and corporate login credentials. This poses a major liability for businesses – and employees – in the event phone data becomes compromised.

Data security means going the extra mile

The first step in increasing phone data security for your business is eliminating easy access to sensitive information. Employees may remember to delete information from their hard drive when they replace their computer, but they often forget the importance of wiping proprietary data when they discard their mobile devices. Because many companies replace their cell phones more often than they replace their computers, data plunderers are presented with abundant opportunities to commit identity theft.

Most popular phone manufacturers have protocol in place to restore mobile devices to factory settings, but this might not be enough.  Like computers, smartphones have embedded storage. This embedded storage holds access to a goldmine of information easily accessible to data predators. Even if a mobile phone is restored to factory settings, sensitive information can still linger in various hardware components, such as microprocessors, RAM, and flash memory.

When you are ready to recycle your organization’s cell phones, look for an electronics recycler who takes data security seriously. For example, A1 Assets was recently awarded Responsible Recycling Practices (R2) certification, which requires our organization to sanitize, purge, or destroy data on all hard drives and data storage devices that come through our facility. To reach R2 compliance, we follow National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) guidelines in addition to our own internal methods for media sanitation. This creates the protocol for all of the materials we process for reuse, including mobile devices, printers, and fax machines.

The cost to do something right vs. the cost to do something wrong

While selecting an electronics recycler who follows R2 compliant protocol may mean some higher up-front costs, the time, money, and resources saved from avoiding security breach is immeasurable.

According to a study released by Hewlett Packard and the Ponemon Institute, approximately 85 percent of all U.S. companies have experienced one or more data breaches, collectively costing $8.9 million per year. The average time it takes to resolve a cyber attack is 24 to 50 days, but the attack can take much longer to pinpoint if items have been transferred out of your control to a third party vendor.

The moral of the story? Choose a company who will thoroughly sanitize proprietary data on your electronic devices. You’ll sleep better –and avoid liability – knowing your organization’s information stays within the organization.

For more information on A1 Assets’ commitment to data security, please read our press release on achieving Responsible Recycling Practices (R2) and ISO 14001 certification.