Technology equipment often contains parts and information that cannot simply be thrown away. Proper disposal of equipment is both environmentally responsible and often required by law. In addition, hard drives, USB drives, CD-ROMs and other storage media may contain various kinds of HGSE data, some of which is considered sensitive or legally protected. Normal "erasing" of files does not remove data from a storage device, it just tells the computer that the old data sectors are now available to be overwritten. The old data remains in place, and is thus a major security risk for data breaches and identity theft.
Physical and Electronic Data or Devices
HGSE IT Service Center: Request your HGSE-owned or managed device be securely wiped by the IT Service Center in accordance with U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)-approved methods.
Office for Sustainability's Secure & Sustainable Electronics Recycling: Bring your University- or personally-owned devices that are no longer in use and in need of safe, secure recycling to one of the secure recycling events happening across campus. As part of Harvard's commitment to responsibly disposing of electronic waste, Harvard University Information Technology and the Office for Sustainability have teamed up with DataShredder for this community offering. DataShredder is a Harvard-approved service provider and offers secure, compliant and R2 RIOS certified recycling of electronics. By request, a certificate of secure destruction for devices containing confidential information (e.g. HGSE/Harvard research, financial, institutional data) can be provided.
DIY (Physical): Shred papers containing confidential information using a crosscut shredder. Alternatively, HGSE Operations can provide a secure paper disposal bin from Harvard's approved shredding vendor, DataShredder, on the third floor of Gutman library at a user's request, though a certificate of destruction is not able to be provided for data disposed of using these bins. DataShredder also provides an on-demand hard drive destruction service at a low cost to Harvard users (please see the University's Master Service Agreement with DataShredder for more information), or users may bring their physical devices that are no longer in use and in need of safe, secure recycling to one of the secure recycling events happening across campus.
DIY (Electronic): The EFF has produced a couple of guides for removing data from Windows and OS X in a more secure way, and there are several great software tools out there to handle secure destruction on your own:
- 'Secure Empty Trash' feature (Macintosh OS X 10.4 to 10.10)
- If you use a traditional hard drive, and are comfortable with the command line, you can still use the Mac's srm command to overwrite the file. More detailed instructions (in English) are available here.