Whistling Past the IT Graveyard

Michael Vizard

The trouble with aging IT gear is that it's becoming increasingly hard to get rid of responsibly. In the recent good old days, there was a thriving market for used IT gear. That market still exists, but participating in it can be dangerous to your career.

Case in point was a bunch of used copiers that CBS News arranged to purchase. On a report aired last night, it turned out that most of the used copiers that CBS News acquired had sensitive data stored on their hard drives, including police records from Buffalo, architectural diagrams for a building being constructed near Ground Zero in New York, and patient records from an insurance carrier.

Because many IT organizations don't know how to get rid of old IT gear, many of them have started creating IT graveyards where they store aging equipment for fear of running afoul of some compliance requirement. Unfortunately, those systems are invariably cannibalized by someone, resulting in yet another opportunity for data leakage.

Steve Suesens, a technology category manager for the Technology Solutions division of Staples, says compliance regulations, coupled with the need to make sure that hazardous materials are not harming the environment, are pushing companies toward IT services companies that have programs in place to effectively retire IT equipment.

And of course, with the rise of machines running Windows 7 and the advent of server consolidation, there is more aging IT equipment than ever. And if not properly handled, it's also become clearer that if information on any of the gear is compromised, the future prospects of the IT people responsible for retiring old equipment are probably as bright as the gear itself.

In fact, there's even a Web site, called www.Privacyrights.org, dedicated to making sure that everybody knows about every data breach just in case anybody wants to forget about what happened later on.

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