A streamlined approach

Features - Operations Focus

ITAD companies seek to streamline operations and enhance customer offerings with data erasure solutions.

March 4, 2014

When IT equipment is recycled or permanently retired, data must be removed, or the company that owns the devices could face serious liability, especially in highly regulated industries, such as health care and finance. Regulations like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act require companies to keep tight reigns on data until the information, or the equipment where it resides, becomes obsolete. If not, fines and lawsuits may result. The financial stakes are high, not to mention the effects of damaged reputations.

IT asset disposal (ITAD) organizations like Arrow Electronics, Melville, N.Y.; CloudBlue, Joliet, Ill.; and CSI Leasing, St. Louis, are uniquely positioned to help businesses meet these regulatory requirements and overall data privacy goals through secure and efficient processing of IT equipment. To attract and keep customers, these ITADs offer the latest tools and services to support secure handling, processing and asset management, including the critical task of data erasure.

Advanced data erasure tools are designed to help ITADs mitigate data security risks for their customers by completely removing data from used equipment. But data removal is just one piece of the puzzle. Detailed reporting is designed to provide an audit trail for regulatory compliance. Also, the reports provide an assessment of equipment health and other details necessary for potential resale, resulting in a valuable revenue stream for customers.

For Arrow, CloudBlue and CSI Leasing, offering data erasure services not only reduces risks for customers it also provides automated, simultaneous erasure of multiple pieces of equipment for efficient processing. To add to this efficiency, these ITADS have become charter members of a new vendor partner program through its data erasure solutions provider, Blancco, which offers insights, technical support, training and resell opportunities designed to further drive value for enterprise customers.

Arrow electronics: expanding reverse logistics

Arrow Electronics, a global provider of electronic components and enterprise computing solutions and support, is growing its reverse logistics services for clients in industries like finance, health care and retail. While it has offered data erasure for more than 10 years, Arrow says it chose an advanced data erasure solution as a software security standard five years ago as part of a drive to offer best-in-class solutions.

“Clients are more sensitive about data security than ever, especially as legislation changes around the world and litigation occurs,” says Tim Kolbus, Arrow vice president of global reverse logistics. “After a benchmarking selection process, we found the data erasure software that offered strong capabilities with helping Arrow manage data security risks for our clients.”

Every month, Arrow processes approximately 300,000 pieces of equipment at 14 processing centers worldwide, so it needed flexible software that could support global operations. Arrow’s selection process uncovered data erasure solutions from Blancco. Arrow Electronics says the software’s ease of use and industry-leading support for a range of global data erasure certifications and approvals was appealing.

“Other solutions on the market did not demonstrate the knowledge or experience required to operate in a global environment and couldn’t support our processing centers in locations like Brazil and Europe,” Kolbus says. “Also, the data erasure software we selected provides Arrow the scalability to fit our growth pattern and the flexibility to perform data sanitization in our processing centers over the network or at our clients’ sites using a toolkit application.”

Arrow recently began partnering with its data erasure vendor to further enhance its full-service portfolio. Capitalizing on its capabilities across the technology life cycle and leveraging experience in reverse logistics, Arrow says it is positioned to provide complete, end-to-end solutions that help enterprise clients reduce total cost of ownership.

“We are focused on driving innovation in the reverse logistics industry, and our global erasure vendor invests to keep pace with technology,” Kolbus says. “For example, they have expanded from PCs and servers to mobile device erasure, which we use for smartphones.”

In addition to providing on-site erasure services, Arrow, as part of the partner program, also resells data erasure software to clients who want to run their own on-site erasure processes.

“These clients want a network solution to wipe drives on multiple devices prior to handing them over or shipping them to us,” Kolbus explains.

Blancco releases white paper on secure resale of mobile devices

The used smartphone market is expected to grow from 53 million to 257 million units over the next five years, according to Blancco, headquartered in Finland. To assist mobile network operators (MNOs) and in leveraging this growth potential, Blancco has introduced a white paper detailing why MNOs and their recycling partners should fully erase data from smartphones and tablets prior to resale.

Blancco’s new white paper, “Mobile Network Operators and the Used Mobile Device Market: Safely Capturing Value with Advanced Data Erasure,” is available for download at http://download.blancco.com/Marketing/Material/Whitepapers/mno-whitepaper-en.pdf.

“MNOs can capture significant residual value from used mobile devices, adding to the vital average revenue per user (ARPU) metric,” says Kim Väisänen, CEO and co-founder of Blancco.

”In this era of bring your own device, most businesses still lack a strong mobile device erasure policy, leaving open the distinct possibility for data breaches of both personal and corporate data accessed by smartphones and tablets if not fully erased,” he says. “That’s why it’s important for MNOs to find an expert recycling partner that utilizes advanced data erasure tools, which provide detailed reports to prove data removal as well as device health for resale.”

As part of the partner program, Arrow employees will be trained as Blancco Certified Engineers.

“Arrow is committed to data security for our customers and [to] keeping up with technology changes and techniques needed to effectively sanitize devices requires constant vigilance and continuous training,” says John Spengler, Arrow senior manager of client experience. “The training from this partner program further equips our technicians with the skills needed to recognize and securely process next generation product returns.”

CloudBlue: leveraging efficiencies

A leading provider of enterprise ITAD services, CloudBlue has used data erasure software from Blancco since 2008. With more than 40 locations globally, the company chose Blancco software primarily for its reporting capability, global certifications and asset management features.

“All of our Fortune 1000 customers require that we provide an erasure certificate for each hard drive, and the individualized reports from this advanced data erasure solution provide that, along with serial numbers, drive health status and other essential details for remarketing,” says Todd Zegers, senior vice president of business development for CloudBlue. “It also flags any software licenses remaining on the drive so our clients can ensure they are in compliance with site licensing agreements.”

CloudBlue primarily erases data on servers, desktops, laptops and mobile devices, with an increasing amount of its business performed on site at customer locations using a standalone erasure toolkit. For these core equipment categories, the Blancco Asset Manager function has proven helpful, Zegers says.

“The Asset Manager performs diagnostics to make sure the equipment and all of its components are fully functional,” Zegers explains. “If it fails a test, we can send it to repair to maximize the value of the equipment and ensure no nonworking electronics are resold.”

Zegers also says he appreciates the fact that CloudBlue’s data erasure solution is network based. “At the volumes we process, we need to erase hundreds of drives simultaneously. This advanced data erasure software allows us to plug the equipment into the network for automated erasure of multiple devices at once?a much more scalable process than using a CD.”

While value recovery and “being green” are important priorities for CloudBlue’s customers, data security as part of the chain of custody is their primary focus, Zegers says. “There is no room for error when it comes to data security. Our customers demand we use the best tools available, which is why we have chosen and integrated this particular data erasure solution into our certified processes,” he adds.

CloudBlue says it expects to resell data erasure solutions to customers who want the remote erasure capability for international locations by participating in Blancco’s partner program. Zegers says he anticipates extra convenience and better service for customers through the program’s Certified Engineer training for partners as well as through sales support.

“For discussions with prospective customers, it will help our sales and business development team to tap into an internal expert on how our data erasure solution is used, deployed, tracked and reported,” he says.

CSI leasing: leading in data security

CSI, one of the world’s largest equipment leasing companies, has a wholly owned subsidiary, EPC, headquartered in St. Charles, Mo., that performs data destruction, electronics recycling and other services for all of CSI’s off-lease returns.

As hard drives grew larger, EPC found that the data cleanser it was using took too long to process equipment. Six years ago, CSI says it chose a new, advanced data erasure solution based on its speed and scalability, along with global certifications, as EPC runs seven facilities for CSI in the U.S., two facilities in Canada and others in Mexico, Brazil, Panama, the U.K. and Slovakia.

“We tested Blancco’s advanced data erasure software and two other products in our labs on a variety of desktops, servers and notebooks,” says Brian Wahoff, chief technology officer for EPC. “Their solution performed well in terms of speed, reporting quality and failures, so we chose them for our sole data eradication software vendor.”

Productivity improved immediately with the new data erasure solutions in place. “Just the raw speed improvements were significant,” Wahoff says. On-site data erasure also is a large part of the company’s business, and its vendor’s flexible kits for on-site erasure are routinely used at customer locations around the world.

Using this advanced data erasure software has streamlined overall processes related to data erasure for EPC as well as the entire auditing process for its customers.

“The tool is easy to use, with an interface focused on its primary task of data destruction in as few steps as possible, so we can bring a new technician up to speed in just minutes,” Wahoff says. “Also, erasure reports are consolidated into the tool’s central management console, which is tightly integrated with our production applications,” he adds.

Because it wanted to reinforce its leadership in the data security arena, CSI chose to join Blancco’s partner program. “When selling to a potential customer, data erasure comes up almost immediately, especially in industries like health care and finance,” Wahoff says. “It’s a core part of our IT services suite. We want the exposure and the recognition as a leader in data destruction.”

He says he also sees great value in the partner program’s Certified Engineer training. “We always look for improvement in our operations, and this training shifts internal Blancco support from IT to our production staff, which will improve our response time to challenges during the wiping process,” he says.

Keeping pace

ITADs are often in the best position to provide secure, fast, efficient and economical processing of end-of-life computers for enterprises. To help deliver these customer benefits, ITADs need a data erasure vendor that can provide the tools, best practices and programs to execute the data erasure portion of their services.

Using its technology, strategies, marketing and training, Blancco seeks to help ITADs like Arrow Electronics, CloudBlue and CSI Leasing, along with their customers, capture value from recycled electronic equipment while ensuring data privacy and regulatory compliance. The company also is educating its ITAD customers on how they can offer selective erasure at other points in the equipment life cycle, including targeted data erasure on live systems.


Markku Willgren is president of Blancco’s U.S. operations, based in Marietta, Ga. Blancco is a global leader in data erasure and computer reuse solutions. More information is available at www.blancco.com.