If your company isn’t focused on hardware data security as a complete data protection plan, you’re making a grave mistake. Data breaches do occur due to breaches of the software installed in your offices, warehouses, or other areas of business. They can occur if you do not take protections when recycling your outdated or broken electronics. Data breaches also occur on vulnerable components like proxy servers, hard drives, and security modules that manage your authentication, decryption, and encryption keys.
A hacker or malware can get onto your software and corrupt your data. It can allow them to get into your files. With hardware-based security, you eliminate the possibility of people being able to change the data, which makes it hard for hackers or thieves to access private information or tamper with your files. Government agencies, the aerospace and defense industry, infrastructure, retail, health, and financial industries are often the biggest targets for breaches and data theft. Steps must be taken to protect data. It’s clear from breaches like those that Equifax, Veteran’s Affair, and many other organizations or companies faced that more care is needed. You need to incorporate a complex data protection plan to stay safe.
Your comprehensive data security plan needs to focus on every possible avenue for a breach or theft. You need to cover how your company’s software is protected, how outdated or unnecessary electronics are recycled, and the steps employees need to take to ensure they don’t accidentally leave private information exposed when they’re working at home or on a break. This plan needs to be written out and understood by your key personnel. They need to follow it. No one can take shortcuts or overlook the critical aspects of this plan. You also shouldn’t spend so much time protecting your software that you forget about hardware data security.
Types of Hardware-Based Security
Firewalls, routers, and switches are three of the most common hardware-based security solutions. Here’s how they work to help prevent breaches.
Typically, your internet network cable connects to your server or computer. With a hardware firewall, the network cable plugs into the firewall first and another cable goes from the hardware firewall device to the computer or server. That hardware firewall inspects all traffic using the rules that you can configure. If a problem is suspected, the traffic is blocked. If it’s okay, the traffic is allowed to pass the firewall.
With hardware firewalls, you have a lot of control. You customize the rules and can set up permissions so that only one or two people can access the RDP or SSH ports. You customize the rules over what traffic is and isn’t allowed. You also have default rules you can use. Adjustments to those rules and permissions can be made or troubleshot quickly. You can manage a VPN for secure access from home offices or your business. One other benefit is that you can disable or remove software firewalls. This will free up memory and processing functions.
Most computer systems have a router that provides a Wi-Fi signal for workers or customers to gain access to the internet while they’re in the shop, office, or building. Routers can be a weak link when it comes to hackers gaining access to critical information. To prevent this, you should choose a secure router.
Secure routers work by using built-in security to constantly scan for issues within the network or blocking users from accessing malicious websites. Secure routers also have built-in DDoS protection in place to prevent this very common malicious attack on networks and servers.
Security switches are a piece of hardware that is used to protect desktops, laptops, and smartphones within an office. They help protect against malware, spyware, theft, and unauthorized surveillance or eavesdropping. They should be set up by the person you have handling your data security.
Once installed, a security switch can save a theft of your data by switching off access. Say a work laptop is stolen during a break-in. That switch can be set to shut off all access to the screen, keyboard, or power button if the switch is activated or certain criteria are met. It can also be used on desktops and smartphones in the same way. Another way security switches work is by cutting off all access to a computer if the system tries to download malicious apps or software.
Other Hardware-Based Security Measures
Those are the most common hardware-based data protection. There are others. Geo-fencing can shut off all access to an electronic device if it is outside of a location defined by your security team. Hardware security modules attach to computers or networks and have cryptoprocessors that manage and protect using digital keys. No matter what hardware-based security measures are used, they’re often paired with software for a comprehensive security plan.
Data & Hardware Security Also Involves Proper Disposal
While you have hardware that helps secure your company’s data, there are also measures you need to take when an item is outdated or no longer works. You need to make sure that your electronics are processed and recycled correctly to prevent theft of data that could be recovered if it is not erased properly.
IT and Asset Disposition (ITAD)
When you no longer need electronics because they’re old or no longer needed. ITAD services should include steps to protect the data, maintain information privacy, and protect the environment from pollution. Not only do you face fines if you do not recycle electronics properly, but you also put your, your employees’, or your customers’ s/clients’ information in jeopardy.
ITAD services help with the recycling of computers, servers, switches, routers, and firewalls. It also helps with your point-of-sale equipment, phone systems, monitors, tablets, scanners, RFID chip cards, magnetic tapes, cameras, etc. You must recycle these items appropriately.
For items that have no value, you can destroy them in large shredders. E-scrap shredding uses machines that resemble paper shredders only they cut up glass, plastic, and metal into small fragments. Those pieces are then sorted and sent to pre-approved vendors where they’re used to make new items. The same is done with glass and metals. Items do not end up in the landfill where they can release heavy metals and other contaminants into the groundwater and soil.
It’s important to check the certification of the company you select for your ITAD service. Some companies make promises that they do not ship things overseas, but they get caught doing just that. Look specifically for companies that hold e-Stewards, which guarantees that items are not exported overseas to developing countries and that items are recycled and reused when possible. Also look for R2, which focuses on responsible electronics recycling and repair policies.
Data Center Decommissioning
If you’re relocating, remodeling, or shutting down your data center, you need a company that can meet your needs for ITAD as the equipment is moved or recycled. If there still might be value to someone else, your electronic equipment can be wiped of data, refurbished, and resold to bring you some profit, which is a good way to capture some of the money you’ll spend on equipment upgrades.
When you’re recycling your old printers, laptops, desktops, hardware firewalls, copiers, etc. Make sure you arrange to have the data destroyed. Data destruction services are a vital part of a security plan. If the items have resale value, the data is sanitized first. From there, the items can be refurbished and ready for sale or donation through a remarketing plan that helps companies getting the highest possible value in resale.
Choose a company where the data destruction comes with special services that allow you to track every step of the data destruction process. Choose a company that offers real-time visibility of the process, which includes being able to watch the process happening. For the ultimate security, choose a data destruction firm that has:
Secure perimeters in a guarded facility
- Monitored security alarms with motion detection
- 24-hour video surveillance of entries and main areas
- Metal detectors at entries and exits
- RFID cards and Proxy Ready entries/exits into secure areas of the facility
- Authorized personnel only allowed in data destruction and asset management areas
- Security gates on loading docks
ERI offers this level of security. We hold several certifications to ensure that the data destruction we do complies with NAID, NSA/CSS policies, and NIST 800-88 Rev1, depending on the level of data destruction that’s required. NIST 800-88 Rev1 is what most companies require, but we also can manage data destruction and e-waste recycling for electronics with top-secret materials. If you need a customized protocol for data destruction, we work with you to meet your exact needs.
All eight of our processing facilities are secure. We do not ship any electronics overseas. Everything processed in the U.S. Ask our experts about data destruction of all of your office hardware. Call 1-800-ERI-DIRECT to discuss your needs and how you can best protect yourself from security breaches.