The vast range and volume of new devices being deployed in the marketplace makes it nearly impossible for companies to safely manage and dispose of excess electronics. Most companies are oblivious to the risks associated with asset disposition and theft, failure to mitigate the risks could have dire consequences.
Most companies are yet to rise to the challenge, especially with the recent developments in data protection legislation (PoPI Act) that compels company executives to protect company information.
Xperien CEO Wale Arewa warns that employee theft is the number one risk associated with IT Asset Disposal (ITAD). “Failure to mitigate the risk associated with employee theft will eventually lead to reputational loss, especially if data you are supposed to protect ends up in the wrong hands.”
Employees often misappropriate IT assets before securely disposing of any data that is contained on these devices. Their focus is the residual value of the asset, which most likely exceeds the daily wage of the blue-collar workers involved in the disposal process.
“Preventing theft should really start within making sure you have developed procedures that remove temptation. An unbroken chain-of-custody is essential to indemnify your organisation from downstream risks associated with IT disposals,” he explains.
Typically, chain-of-custody is established by manually matching manufacturer serial numbers captured on a vendor inventory. This is not as easy as it sounds, in a recent study only 47 percent of serial numbers captured at pickup could be successfully matched with final disposition.
“This means that if you rely solely on serial numbers to ensure chain-of-custody you have a roughly 50/50 chance of success,” says Arewa.
He says the solution is disposal tags. “If you tag each asset you send for disposition with a disposal tag you’ve just increased the odds of successful end-to-end tracking to 99%. This is why airlines tag luggage and furniture movers tag boxes, because it works.”
More importantly, disposal tags deter theft. Once employees know that assets are tagged and will be missed, they are less likely to steal them. Chain-of-custody is not a catchphrase used only in a court of law; chain-of custody evidence is the very foundation for indemnification and transfer of liability.
Arewa says a serial number alone doesn’t ensure chain-of-custody. “Adding the disposal tag improves trackability and makes pilfering and misrouting far less likely. Tags are simple, easy and highly effective.”
It is easy to add tags to an existing process and tags work with any vendor, any size project, anywhere. Tags are a perfect way to prevent problems, save time, and save money.
Nobody cares about ITAD until something goes wrong. But when something does go wrong then everybody cares, the CEO, CTO, legal counsel, the crisis management team and most of all, the customers.
“It is a huge problem when an asset disappears or when an asset turns up in the wrong place or when an asset is resold and found to contain company secrets or customer data. We’ve seen this far too often. Suddenly you have a problem and many times that problem is also a public relations nightmare that can damage your reputation and your brand,” he concludes.