Disposing of old computer equipment used to be a mindless process, but those methods of the past are no longer an option with the introduction of new laws and regulations. The days of piling it up in storage or simply selling it off to staff or second-hand retailers, or even dumping it in a landfill, are over once the balance of the POPI Act has been promulgated.
The chairperson of the Information Regulator, Advocate Pansy Tlakula, is of the opinion that uncontrolled data growth urgently requires new corporate policies for data storage and retention. The information regulator is pushing for the remaining provisions of the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) to be finalised and to come into effect by 1 April 2020.
After the commencement date, companies will have 12 months to get their systems and processes in place to comply with the Act for the processing and storing of personal information.
Xperien CEO Wale Arewa says it’s time to act. “The POPIA Act will ensure that companies are responsible when collecting, processing, storing and sharing personal information and once the Act is effective, they will be held accountable. The penalties will be harsh, lack of compliance will lead to fines of up to R10 million and a jail sentence of up to 10 years.”
New corporate policies for data storage will be required, especially with heaps of hard drives and solid-state drives lying around storage rooms and data centres. Most of these drives contain sensitive data which needs to be protected or permanently removed – or it could put the company at risk.
More importantly, data at end-of-life is a massive challenge for most businesses, big and small. It is often assumed that once data has been marked for disposal, it no longer requires much attention. It is essential for data security and the protection of personal, proprietary and confidential information that data is permanently destroyed, deleted or erased from devices.
Arewa says simply deleting the data or running a magnet over the old hard drives to erase data is not enough. “Even using the old hard drives for target practice or drilling holes in them will not satisfy the prescriptions of the POPI Act, nor does a factory reset.”
Xperien has a track record in the refurbishment and disposal of old computer equipment in a way that is fully compliant with the POPI Act. The safe erasure of data is carried out using specialised tools like Blancco, which is recommended by IT consulting firm Gartner as one of the most suitable tools for this purpose.
Illustration by Doug Griswold/Bay Area News Group