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Why Your Company Should Destroy Your External Hard Drive

Why Your Company Should Destroy Your External Hard Drive

by Stephanie Faris on Monday, April 30, 2018 14:00

At one time, external hard drives were a great way to keep files in a transportable format. As these portable drives increased their storage while lowering in price, they were already becoming obsolete, replaced by much more convenient cloud storage options. But any business that has been around for more than a few years runs the risk of a forgotten device, possibly tucked into a drawer or the pocket of a laptop bag. An employee may even have a personal drive with business files somewhere at home.

Retrieving all of these devices can be tricky, especially if you think long-departed employees may have external drives with your business data on them. There is a good possibility those devices will never be used again, but even if they aren't, they still pose a risk to your business. Here are a few reasons you should try to track down and destroy work data on any external hard drives used for your business.

Danger When Discarded

Chances are, when your employees do stumble upon a long-forgotten external hard drive, it will end up in the trash. The same dangers that exist with your computer hard drives are also present with external drives. Whether it's a small flash stick or a portable drive, it could become compromised once it ends up in a wastebasket. Whether this happens during transport or after it lands at a local landfill, any files on that device could end up in the hands of someone who could use it to compromise your business through activities like fraud or credit card information theft.

Lost Hard Drives

Of course, if those external drives have been neglected for years, chances are their owners will never find them. When they're lost, they probably will eventually be discarded. But even if they're damaged or old, an enterprising cybercriminal could get to the data on them. For external drives that have sensitive business information, that means you're putting your data security in the hands of whomever stumbles upon the device. Requesting those drives before they're lost can help protect your business against the data breach a misplaced hard drive could cause.

Risks of Use

Even if your employee knows exactly where the external drive is, your data could still be at risk. USB devices have been found to contain vulnerabilities that could allow malware access. Although this occurrence is unlikely, it can happen, so if your employees are regularly using external drives, it's even more important to have them store their files on your own servers or use a cloud storage solution.

One way to reduce your risk of a security breach is to incentivize employees to turn their old hard drives in. Offer a small gift card to each worker or a lunchtime pizza party for the team that can track down the largest number of them.

What do you do with the external hard drives that remain on your premises? You can wipe them with disk-wiping software, but traces of data may still be detectable. We offer mobile hard drive destruction services that include degaussing and hard drive shredding. We can extend this to your external hard drives, as well. This will ensure your devices are safely discarded, giving you the peace of mind you need.

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