E-Waste Is a Cybersecurity Problem, Too

E-Waste Is a Cybersecurity Problem, Too

Within the last few decades, the usage of technology has been on the rise, and with it comes development. It is now common practice for electronic devices to be cast away in the garbage and even in the backs of home storage or drawers as new and upgraded versions of these devices are released. These forgotten laptops and smartphones might seem like merely quaint relics, however, these devices may become dangerous if not disposed of properly. This is because improper disposal of electronic devices can leak two different but dangerous things: toxic chemicals and sensitive data.

By 2019, the world has generated a record of 53.6 million metric tons of electronic waste, increasing by 21% in over five years, according to the United Nations. Out of this record, only about 17% of the electronic waste is recycled, with the rest being improperly disposed of, which is detrimental for both human health and privacy. Studies have shown that people who live in e-waste exposed regions had significantly elevated levels of heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants. These toxic substances, if they get back into the land and water can cause very negative effects on human health and the environment.

Aside from the danger posed by the chemicals produced from e-waste, another problem is the leakage of sensitive data. Once disposed of, electronic devices still contain relevant data that can be used by others, leading to a massive invasion of privacy. John Sherigan, co-founder and CEO of ERI, one of the largest electronics disposition providers in the world, shared that one of his company's clients was a big-name bank with a problem regarding an information leak about the bank's clients. Turns out this information was obtained through a thrown-out laptop by one of the bankers in Manhattan. Since the electronic device was improperly disposed of, there had been a disastrous breach within the bank's multi-billion-dollar enterprise.

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