Recycling Backup Tapes - Green Or Just Scary? - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Infrastructure // PC & Servers
11:44 AM
Howard Marks
Howard Marks
Connect Directly

Recycling Backup Tapes - Green Or Just Scary?

I got an e-mail today with the subject We Buy Used Tape Media, which got me thinking. In today's environment, where lost backup tapes get companies, and their storage administrators, in the newspaper, and possibly the unemployment line, who in their right mind would sell their old backup tapes?

I got an e-mail today with the subject We Buy Used Tape Media, which got me thinking. In today's environment, where lost backup tapes get companies, and their storage administrators, in the newspaper, and possibly the unemployment line, who in their right mind would sell their old backup tapes?The tree-hugging, Birkenstock-wearing, granola-eating bunch an arts college like ours naturally collects loves the idea of recycling, but even for us this seems a step too far. Even though the e-mail claimed the process was HIPAA, Sarbox, and Patriot Act compliant, I've gotten e-mails in the past offering little blue pills and I'm still waiting for the wire from my new friend, the son-in-law of the king of Nigeria.

Given the fact that the Web site this e-mail represents sells refurbished LTO-1 tapes for $15, they can't be buying them for more then $5 or so. So is $5, or even $500, to your budget worth the risk? Even if they're completely legit, and completely overwrite the tapes, your data, and your reputation, are at risk while the tapes are in transit via UPS or FedEx.

Of course, if all your backup tapes are encrypted, the extra $500 would make a nice addition to late night administrator's refreshment fund.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
User Rank: Apprentice
12/9/2013 | 6:03:49 PM
Re: Recycling Hard Drives - Green or Scary
I work for a company that buys, and refurbishes or destroys magnetic tapes. 

we have never heard or seen any data ever escaping from a tape.


-              A few tapes have been reported missing from a company like Iron Mountain - but never any reports of any data being leaked or removed or accessed from a lost or stolen tape

-              All of the security breaches of customer information, health records, credit card numbers, tax records, etc...  have all been breached from stolen or lost laptops, hard drives, and website hacking

-              Encrypted data on a tape cannot be accessed


for mor info read: Article describing the GAO's (Government Accountability Office) stand on "Sale of Magnetic Data Tapes Previously Used by the Government Presents a Low Security Risk"


Sox and HIPAA Compliant Data Destruction

Why should you trust with your used media ?

-               Family owned business

-               40 Years in the data tape recycling business

-               20 Years in the same company owned facility


How else can we help you ?

-               References available

-              100% spotless record

-               Accurate reporting – FAST pay

-               On-Site Data Eradication available

-               FREE Data Destruction Certification

-               DOD, SOX, PCI, and HIPAA compliant

-               Secure disposal of non-value tapes and cartridges

-               We pay for shipping with complete chain of custody

-               FREE secure data eradication on all purchased media
Gary Scott
Gary Scott,
User Rank: Moderator
11/23/2013 | 6:26:41 PM
Recycling Hard Drives - Green or Scary
Recycling Hard Drives – Green or Just Scary?

Scary!  The company that sent you the email is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to selling company and customer data.  This type of event happens on a daily basis.  Companies hire electronic recyclers to dispose of their end of life IT equipment.   

What is done with the most valuable company asset (information and Goodwill), and greatest potential liability (data privacy legislation), during the mundane IT recycling process?  That is the question the FTC (under the Red Flags Rule and The Disposal Rule) and litigating attorneys will demand a company to prove, not just answer.  Unfortunately, most people charged with removing IT equipment don't have a solid answer. Why?  Because they have allowed a vendor to remove hard drive and backup tapes from their custody before the digital data was physically destroyed first.  Think...hard drive shredding.

Keep in mind, erasing hard drives and backup tape for resell on eBay only benefits the recycler.  The company takes all the risk of exposing employee records, electronic health records and company Intellectual Property.

When disposing of IT equipment, hire a data destruction company that is NAID Certified for backup tapes and hard drive destruction.  Insists on the following from your data destruction vendor:

1. Professional Liability insurance specifically for data destruction – including breach notification coverage

2. Physically destroy hard drive and backup tapes

3. Complete the data destruction onsite – so you are able to witness the destruction
Think Like a Chief Innovation Officer and Get Work Done
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  10/13/2020
10 Trends Accelerating Edge Computing
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  10/8/2020
Northwestern Mutual CIO: Riding Out the Pandemic
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  10/7/2020
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
[Special Report] Edge Computing: An IT Platform for the New Enterprise
Edge computing is poised to make a major splash within the next generation of corporate IT architectures. Here's what you need to know!
Flash Poll