Here at 4th Bin we proudly tell our clients that we are committed to providing the highest level of professionalism, security and reliability when handling certified data destruction, old equipment and e-waste services. We take this incredibly seriously—especially in terms of security.
Clients who want to get rid of sensitive IT equipment (like hard drives) typically understand the need for a secure data destruction service. When dealing with other equipment, the need for the service may not be as clear. But it is just as important.
Take this cautionary tale that has the potential to completely devastate a business.
When Mark Oberholtzer, owner of a plumbing company based in Texas, wanted to upgrade his truck, he didn’t think much about taking it to his Ford dealership for a trade. It was a company truck and Mark had a decal on it that promoted its business. When he was trading it that promoted its in for an upgrade, he went to try to remove the decal but the salesman on the lot told him not to bother because it could scratch the paint.
So Mark got into his new truck and drove away, thinking that was the end of it. But it was actually just the beginning of a very bumpy ride.
Mark, like many of us, didn’t really think about where his old truck would end up or how Ford would excess the vehicle. What Mark certainly didn’t expect is that a photo of his old truck with the decal of his company intact, would get into the hands of ISIS fighters in the Syrian civil war. But that’s exactly what happened.
While Ford isn’t sure how Mark’s truck ended up in the hands of ISIS, it is being investigated because Mark is suing the dealership for more than one million dollars for financial losses and damages to his company’s reputation.
His plumbing company was heavily impacted because a photo of the truck in the hands of ISIS, with his company’s decal intact, went viral. In one day, Mark’s office, business phone and personal cell received over one thousand calls from around the nation, many harassing.
Mark told CNN, “Most of the calls were harassing and threatened violence and included the yelling (of) expletives at whomever answered the phone, the “singing in Arabic for the duration of the phone call and threats of injury or death.”
For his employees’ protection and his own, Mark temporarily shut down his business and left town. He was also contacted by Homeland Security and the FBI.
While, initially, the idea that something you once owned can possibly end up on the other side of the world in terrorists’ hands seems hard to imagine, it can happen. But the real takeaway of this story is that if you don’t know where your old equipment is going, it can go anywhere.
And we aren’t just talking about the obvious types of technology such as cars, desktops or laptops. The frightening reality is that ISIS is extremely tech savvy. As such, the questions could be: How are they accessing the Internet? Where are they getting their network equipment (such as firewalls, routers, and switches)? The reality is that when you are not properly vetting your vendors to make sure they are responsibly destroying your equipment and technology, it can end up in the wrong hands. This may seem alarmist but we bet Mark Oberholtzer is thinking he should’ve thought of that before he handed over his truck. What you should be asking yourself is: What are the implications to you and your business if a security agency pulls up a serial number of your device feeding ISIS the Internet?
It’s a scary thought, but it does make you realize how important it is to manage your e-waste, data destruction, and the removal of old equipment. You need to work with a trusted professional so you are absolutely confident that when you get rid of your IT assets, they are destroyed reliably, professionally and, most importantly, securely.
Interested in learning more? Contact at us at 4th Bin.