Tech recycling has been a major environmental and security focus in recent years as consumers discard old computers, outdated cell phones, and other devices. Apart from the danger of leaking these components and their potentially toxic chemicals into a landfill or groundwater, there is the additional risk of an old device falling into the wrong hands, leading to gleaning of the original owner’s data.
Now, consumers are being asked to evaluate their internet-of-things devices. As this technology increases in innovation and new options begin to replace old ones, users will have to keep the same safety and security considerations in mind. It’s not just the concerns over the physical components like contain batteries, copper wiring, mercury, and other toxins, either. An Amazon Alexa, for example, could potentially lead back to your Amazon account, your purchase history, your order history with delivery address, and even recordings of your voice. Likewise, an identity thief would love to get their hands on a medical IoT device that connected your health data to your doctor’s office or medical center, as it “speaks” to and receives messages from your medical records.
Fortunately, e-cycling initiatives have taken hold in many communities around the world. These programs not only keep the electronic components out of the dump, they also ensure that the device is thoroughly wiped clean of user information, old files and photos, and any other data that people wouldn’t want exposed.
Any device that connected to your identifying information, no matter how innocuous or sensitive it might have been, has the potential to be stripped for information by a hacker. Safeguarding your information means ensuring that any information contained within the device or that connected to the device is completely inaccessible. You can search online for e-cycling centers near you before disposing of other devices, but contact them to make sure they can accept IoT devices, especially any medical devices, before bringing them in.
Before discarding any internet-of-things of mobile connected device, wipe it clean of all data and profile information. If you can find the instructions to restore it to factory settings, that is an excellent way to do it. When in doubt, take it back to an authorized retailer for that product and get help determining that your information and your account profile are completely gone, then recycle it with confidence.