Albert Boufarah Explains How To Keep Your Data Safe When Participating in E-Waste Programs

Albert Boufarah
Feb 11 · 3 min read
Albert Boufarah Explains How To Keep Your Data Safe When Participating in E-Waste Programs

Electronic waste, sometimes referred to as e-waste, has become increasingly important owing to the rapid rise of technology coupled with the ongoing climate crisis. As a result, old electronic devices, such as cell phones, laptops, or tablets, should not be thrown in the garbage. But instead, should be recycled or donated. However, donating or recycling electronics is not as simple as dropping it off at a charity shop. Rather, there are important steps that must be taken in order to ensure that your data is removed from those devices to keep your information secure. Albert Boufarah is an entrepreneur and the current CEO of SAMR Inc., a recycling centre based in Lakewood, New Jersey. Boufarah has extensive experience with e-waste and in particular, the proper practices that must be followed when recycling old electronics.

The Importance of Keeping Your Data Safe

According to Albert Boufarah, the first step is understanding why it’s important to protect your personal data when disposing of an old electronic device. As you likely know, personal items like computers and smartphones all contain a great deal of information. Thus, if you donate any one of these items without taking the proper steps to erase such data, you run the risk of disclosing sensitive information, which could then be abused by cyber criminals. Further, Boufarah warns the public that devices of all types store personal information about you, not just computers and cell phones. For example, external hard drives, cameras, video game consoles, printers, computer monitors, and media players may all contain your personal data that you would not like other people to find out such as credit card numbers, passwords, bank accounts, and more.

Methods of Removing Data from Your Device

Albert Boufarah claims that there are many methods you can use to erase data from your old devices. In fact, there are even specific methods that are best suited to certain types of devices. However, before you begin removing the data from any electronic device, a process called sanitization, Boufarah strongly recommends backing up said data onto a computer or external hard drive of some kind, just in case you need it in the future.

When you’re ready to clear your device, you can utilize one of the following methods: The first is referred to as deleting data. However, it goes far beyond simply dragging something into your computer’s trash bin and clicking “empty.” In reality, even when you take this step, the deleted files are still on your device and can be retrieved. That is why on a computer, you should be using a disk cleaning software, such as secure erase or disk wiping, to permanently remove such data. On a smartphone or tablet, you will need to perform a hard reset so that your device reverts back to its original factory settings. The process is similar for digital cameras, media players, gaming consoles, copiers, and printers, whereby you will need to perform a standard factory reset and remove any memory cards that may be inserted into the device, if applicable.

The second method of removing personal data is called overwriting, shares Albert Boufarah. This method not only deletes personal information, but writes new, random binary data over it that makes the original data much more difficult for any potential hackers to find. Lastly, Boufarah states that physically destroying the chips or drives that your data is stored on is another means with which to remove data from a device. There are a number of specialty services that will burn, melt, or pulverize your computer drive. Alternatively, it is possible to do it at home by hammering nails into the hard drive or by drilling a hole into it. Some people may not be overly concerned with their personal data being open to potential cyber criminals. But for those that are, Albert Boufarah urges you to remove your personal data from any devices you intend to donate or recycle by sending it to SAMR Inc. to handle it professionally.

Disposing of Your Device

If you have a device at the end of its life, Albert Boufarah strongly encourages you to recycle it rather than simply throwing it in the trash. By recycling your electronics, you can reduce your carbon footprint.

Albert Boufarah

Written by

Albert Boufarah started SAMR, Inc. 20 years ago with only a few employees. SAMR quickly grew over the next 20 years!

More From Medium

Also tagged Data Protection

Also tagged Environmental Issues

Also tagged Environmental Issues

Why Everyone Should Become a Naturalist

Top on Medium

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade