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Posts filed under 'Electronic Data Destruction'

E-Waste Is Harmful To Your Health And Your Privacy

Our consumption of electronics, like phones, laptops, tablets, and TVs, continues to rise each year. Our devices aren’t exactly built to last, either. It seems like with every new update our phones get slower and our laptops get glitchy. If the picture quality on our TVs gets any higher, we’ll be able to see the actors’ thoughts! So, we frequently trade in the old models for the newer, the faster, and the shinier. But what’s also rising is the e-waste we generate. A growing population means more personal electronics, and this is big trouble for the environment and for our health if these devices aren’t disposed of properly.

In 2013, it was estimated that about 40 million metric tons of e-waste were produced globally each year. Improper disposal methods like throwing equipment in the garbage, having electronics bonfires, or using incorrect recycling methods can cause landfills to overflow, emissions to pollute the air with dangerous chemicals, and toxic waste to leak into our soil and water systems. Burning toxic metals like lead creates poisonous, powdery clouds that circulate far beyond the site of the fire; this can cause serious heart, neurological, and respiratory issues, among other frightening complications. You can help stop this from happening by using the expert storage and security services of Absolute Destruction & Recycling Corp. to recycle your old electronics. What’s more – you can protect your privacy and prevent identity theft at the same time.

If you simply send your old hard drives, discs, files, or equipment off to be recycled without destroying the data first, you’re risking exposure and theft of your personal information. Data can be retrieved from disks and drives even after you think you’ve wiped them clean. Only completely crushing and shredding sensitive materials followed by proper recycling methods ensures total security and safety for you and the environment. Leaving old files, data drives, and other equipment lying around risks their accidental, improper disposal, too. Tossing things away come moving day or during spring cleaning can easily happen, either by yourself, by a family member, or by a friend who’s kindly offered to help. Hire our document destruction experts to handle everything for you on-site, whether at your home or at your business. We also handle document shredding and recycle all the paper to save trees, as well.

Sometimes in this industry, companies will subcontract the destruction of your materials after collection. Disreputable firms charge for secure records destruction, but the materials are just sold for scrap. With our on-site services, you can visually verify your electronics are safely destroyed, and we give you a “Certificate of Destruction” and “Guarantee of Recycling”. If you’re looking for a local document destruction company in Markham or across most of Southern Ontario, we can provide you with a fast online quote. Because we’re a member of the National Association for Information Destruction, you can have total confidence in our services. Their mission is to promote the information destruction industry and the standards and ethics of its member companies. We’re also always happy to answer any questions you have about the process.

Don’t let e-waste leak into our ecosystems, and don’t let your sensitive data leak, either! Save the environment, save our health, and save your privacy, all-in-one.

Add comment March 15th, 2018

Don’t Be The Next Data Breach Headline

We’ve seen some big-name data breaches in the past couple years. Equifax. Yahoo. FedEx. Uber. OkCupid. This January, it was reported that between 2002 and 2014, US Homeland Security compromised the names, social security numbers, and staff job roles of its employees and people under investigation during that time. A quick online search for “data breach” brings up waves of companies who have been compromised, including ones you’d think and hope would know better!

There have been many costly thefts of hard drives and other business property containing the personal information of their clients’ and employees’. Washington State University had their old hard drives stolen in the summer 2017 from a storage unit. Storage facilities often have a few security measures in place, perhaps more than your own business or home, yet they still failed. Music artist Kendrick Lamar’s Producer had a hard drive stolen from his car, with content estimated at $1 million. Perhaps your business or home has a room off to the side or a basement filled with old technology, disks, CDs, and filing cabinets of papers just sitting around? This is dangerous, and perhaps you’ve considered this, but you’re unsure of what to do that is secure. The team at Absolute Destruction & Recycling paper shredding services offers safe document shredding and data destruction services that should be a vital part of your security strategy – commercial or residential.

Maybe your business has recently moved to the cloud (or maybe you don’t trust the cloud) and you have a lot of old hard drives suddenly piling up (to add to the other pile from the 2000s and from the 90s). Beyond taking up valuable space, they’re ripe for the picking if someone manages to break into your building, or, even easier, if a rogue employee or a roommate’s house guest easily swoops in. Old electronics and documents that have been long forgotten can be accidentally thrown away or improperly recycled. All it takes is one enterprising dumpster diver and your personal information is compromised. You might think you’re safe because you’ve formatted the drives and degaussed the CDs and DVDs, but the only sure-fire way to be positive data can’t be recovered is by physically destroying the hardware.

It’s important to hire IT professionals who can give you the best encryption services to protect you from hacks on your current system, and give us a call to handle proper disposal of your old ones. Our mobile shredding trucks conveniently come to your business or home to securely destroy computer hard drives and electronic media devices like compact discs, magnetic tapes, microfiche, credit cards, audio and video tapes. We guarantee that upon destruction no data on your device will be recoverable. We’re also dedicated to protecting the environment, so we have a recycling program that’s safe for the planet, too. Upon completion, our customer service representative will supply you with a “Certificate of Destruction” and “Guarantee of Recycling”.

Don’t be the next company or private individual with their employee, customer, or personal data stolen and exposed. Identity theft is common but avoidable if you take proper precautions. Be sure you’re protected with the expert staff and services of Absolute Destruction.

Add comment March 7th, 2018

Metrolinx Claims To Be Hacked By North Korea

At the end of January, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved its symbolic Doomsday Clock forward by 30 seconds. With its minute hand now resting at two minutes to midnight, the clock suggests the apocalypse is nigh. The last time it was this close to midnight (i.e., the end of the world) was in 1953, at a time when both the US and Soviet Union were testing hydrogen bombs during the Cold War. Today, the organization cites the dire nuclear competition between North Korea and the US as the reasons why the apocalypse could be near in 2018.

The nuclear rhetoric shared by Trump and Kim-Jung Un is concerning though no longer surprising. If you’re like the crew at Absolute Destruction & Recycling you read the news expecting to see mentions North Korea. It doesn’t take long, as the nation state is often the focus of political articles. But it may come as a surprise to learn that North Korea is now linked to the GTA.

At the end of January, Metrolinx claimed it was the victim of a North Korean cyberattack. Its spokesperson, Anne Marie Aikins, would not give many details regarding the attack, but she would say no customer information was compromised. She also went on to say investigators believe the attack first started in North Korea before it was routed through Russia.

The Ontario transit agency has failed to go on to explain why they think North Korea is behind this most recent attack. With no evidence to back up this claim, Metrolinx has gained many critics. That’s because cybersecurity researchers usually find it difficult to successfully attribute the source of most cyberattacks. Because it’s so hard, researchers typically give proof when identifying a culprit — especially when these claims involve a nation state.

Some of Canada’s leading cybersecurity experts criticize object

Among its critics is Eva Galperin, the director of cybersecurity at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). When she spoke to the CBC, she said, “simply saying ‘Hey, that’s North Korea’ with nothing to back it up, is not the sort of statement I would put a lot of faith in.”

The CBC also spoke to Mark Nunnukhoven, the vice president for the cybersecurity company, Trend Micro. He said that, “coming out publicly, saying it was a particular nation state, escalates the stakes for no apparent reason.”

Another critic is University of Toronto professor Ron Deibert. He told the Globe and Mail, “if North Korea was indeed responsible for the attack, that would be a major development necessitating a Government of Canada response, since Metrolinx is a Crown corporation.”

Metrolinx’s cyberattack acts as an important reminder

As Metrolinx cooperates with investigators, the recent attack — regardless of its source — underlines the value of maintaining robust security measures. It also serves as an important reminder for our readers to confirm the strength of their own security measures. Though the attacks on Ontario infrastructure is in an entirely different echelon than any potential attacks targeting your small business, your enterprise needs to take its security policies seriously. As we mentioned before, it’s your legal responsibility to protect your customer’s PI.

Small businesses are often more vulnerable to attacks because they don’t have the same budget to support comprehensive security infrastructure as larger businesses. Some security experts suggest adopting cloud-based data storage software if you don’t have an experienced IT security department. This transfers all your data to remote servers maintained by a larger company, which means you aren’t responsible for implementing or maintaining security infrastructure on your own.

Another way to increase your business’ overall security is by ensuring you have the appropriate shredding schedule for your business’ paper and electronic output. If you aren’t sure how often our team should be shredding your confidential material, we can answer your questions about the frequency of your pick-ups. When our services match your needs perfectly, we can work together to make sure your obsolete paper files and electronic devices don’t pose as security risks.

If you’re a small business owner in the GTA, contact us to learn more. One of our friendly customer service representatives will arrange a convenient shredding schedule customized for your business. Together, we can close the chain of custody once and for all with reliable document destruction.

Add comment February 23rd, 2018

In The News: Bell Canada Hit By Another Security Breach

Last year, the Absolute Destruction & Recycling blog started a brand-new feature called In The News. While many of our posts focus on world-wide security breaches that affect millions of people, In The News is an opportunity to cast a tight net and explore issues affecting the GTA. Moving once again from the macro to micro, we present our very first instalment of In The News of 2018. But perhaps today, it should be called In The News Again, as Bell Canada is once again the target of a cyberattack. The hack — which happened sometime in January of this year — has exposed fewer than 100,000 customers.

Our regular readers will remember Bell was the focus of our June 2017 edition of In The News. Then, it was revealed 1.9 million customer emails were stolen. Canada’s largest telecom giant would not say if there was a connection between these two hacks.

On the surface, January’s breach seems less dire. But, in delving a little deeper, the most recent hack could pose more danger to customers. Though fewer customers were affected overall — a tiny fraction of Bell’s total 22 million customers — those whose information was stolen had more details exposed than those affected by 2017’s breach.

The information obtained in the hack includes:

  • Names
  • Email addresses
  • Account usernames and number
  • Phone numbers

Luckily, no credit card numbers or other banking information was compromised in the breach. But the nature of the breach does increase these customers’ chances of being targets of future phishing attacks.

Email addresses attached to contact information and usernames tip spammers off to the fact that these customers have accounts with Bell. They can exploit this relationship by posing as Bell, sending customers false emails filled with accurate information regarding their accounts. When done well, these emails can trick people into thinking they’re real bills. There’s a danger if these customers click any of the links and send payments to these scammers.

There’s a silver lining to Bell disclosing the extent of their breach with transparency. It gives any Bell customers the opportunity to change compromised profile information, including passwords and usernames. Customers will also have the chance to check their credit report to confirm this recent breach hasn’t affected their finances.

Bell now joins the ranks of other large companies like Uber and Yahoo that have been the target of hackers. With data theft on the rise, consumers are increasingly wary about sharing their personal information online. If you own a business that collects this kind of data, it’s important that you use all resources available to ensure your small business protects its customers’ information.

As you patch your online systems, don’t ignore the risk your physical data poses. Paper files and obsolete electronics that hold customer information or corporate property can be exploited if disposed of incorrectly. Make sure you speak with us, the document destruction experts, before you throw out any confidential material.

Though we’re the best shredding services Toronto has to offer, we offer our full range of services all around the GTA. If you need our services in Vaughan, one of our local crews will make sure your company is secure.

Our crews are available even if you don’t own a small business. Many of our clients are homeowners who scheduled our paper shredding services in Oakville. They secured our help only after they had noticed suspicious activity on their credit report.

Whether you were affected by the Bell hacks or not, get in touch to see how we can schedule our pick-ups to best suit your needs. Once we arrive at a time that works for you, we’ll protect your company, your home, and your good name from threats of identity theft.

Add comment February 15th, 2018

Millions Affected In An Uber Security Breach

At a time when tapping an app has replaced hailing a cab, most of us have relied on the ride sharing firm, Uber, to get around Toronto and the GTA at least once. Though a convenient alternative to taxis, the app comes at a cost to cybersecurity to millions now that Uber revealed it was the target of a significant security breach.

The crew that makes up Abacus’ on call data destruction services was disheartened to hear nearly 50 million customers had their names, emails addresses, and phone numbers exposed in the hack. Hackers also accessed personal information of 7 million drivers — 600,000 of whom had their licence information exposed. So far, the company has yet to reveal how or if the breach affects its Canadian customers. While the Federal Commissioner’s Office is working with regulatory and government authorities to uncover the truth, there’s no evidence to suggest Uber plans on sharing this number.

So far, Uber claims there is no evidence of fraud tied to these exposed identities. It’s still offering up free credit monitoring protection to its drivers, though the same offer isn’t extended to customers. These drivers also have access to an Uber resource page regarding the incident should they have any questions about their next steps.

Last year, our team reported on the breaches that affected Equifax and Yahoo, the latter of which affected billions of customers. By comparison, Uber’s 57 million is a modest number. What is perhaps the worst part of this is the breach’s timeline. News of the hack went public in November of 2017, but the breach happened much earlier.

Uber first learnt of the attack in October 2016 — a month after hackers first accessed the company’s data. This isn’t the first time the company tried to conceal a security breach. Earlier this year, Uber was fined $20,000 for failing to disclose a smaller breach that occurred in 2014.

It was actually during October of last year that Uber was negotiating with U.S. regulator over the 2014 breach. Instead of reporting the new breach from 2016 during the proceedings, Uber stayed mum about the latest hack and chose to pay the attackers $100,000 to delete the acquired data.

Now Uber is under investigation led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Since the reveal, the new CEO, Khosrowshahi said, “While I can’t erase the past, I can commit on behalf of every Uber employee that we will learn from our mistakes.” In doing so, he’s calling for the resignation of the company’s security chief, Joe Sullivan.

Historically, this isn’t the worst case of privacy violation; however, it does pose as a significant reminder about the online security. Always be careful with the apps that you share your information with. When you cast a discerning eye towards an app’s request for information, you can avoid those apps that seek to do you harm.

Uber, on the other hand, is one of the many apps that seemed like it was a safe addition to your phone. While there’s nothing you can do to change the way hackers target companies or how these companies react to these breaches, you can focus on the steps you can take. Protect your personal information by scheduling our secure paper shredding and electronic data destruction services. As a local GTA company, we offer our services in Vaughan, Aurora/Newmarket, and London — just to name a few. Check out our homepage to find the full list of cities we service.

The “Certificate of Destruction” we present at the end of every job means any physical documents or devices storing your personal information is destroyed to such a degree that it can’t be retrieved. This, along with developing safe online habits, is one of the best ways to protect yourself from identity theft.

Give us a call when you’re ready to take the next step in your defence. In addition to on-site pick-ups, we offer consoles and containers to collect your documents, electronics, and recycling in between our visits. Each console and container is locked to prevent any tampering, so you’re safe at every step of the destruction chain. If this sounds like something you or your business could use, let us be your safeguard during a volatile time for cybersecurity.

Add comment January 25th, 2018

Good News: Fewer Canadians Affected In Equifax Breach

Back in September, Equifax reported a breach that affected over 143 million of its customers. As one of the premier document destruction services in Toronto, here at Absolute Destruction, our primary concern was how this attack would affect Canadian customers. Now, several weeks after we first posted about the breach, we have our answer.

An Ongoing Investigation Offers More Info

Since the initial report, Equifax hired Mandiant, a cybersecurity firm to reveal details about the attack. The investigation is far from over, but Mandiant has revealed the number of Canadians affected by the breach is much lower than originally thought. It reports that 8,000 Canadian customers’ information was compromised, a number far off from the preliminary figure of 100,000 first reported.

While Mandiant’s investigation confirmed the Canadian impact was much smaller, it has revealed an additional 2.5 million US customers were involved in the breach, bringing the total number of those affected to 145.5 million.

Former Equifax CEO, Richard Smith, is currently under investigation as he testifies before Congress about his involvement in the breach. He’s to explain how long he and other executives knew about the attack before they did anything to rectify the issue.

Americans Have More Recourse Than Canadian Customers

He’s replaced by interim CEO, Paulino do Rego Barros Jr., who apologizes on behalf of Equifax for its slow and inadequate response to the breach. On September 27, he penned a letter published by The Wall Street Journal. In it he acknowledges the company compounded the problem by offering “insufficient support”. As a result, he promises free credit locking for any American who had their personal information stolen.

Freezing a credit report is the most effective defence against identity theft in these circumstances, but it’s not yet a service available in Canada. Equifax Canada is offering free credit and identity theft monitoring for a year for any Canadian compromised in the breach. These services, in addition to fraud alerts, are the only tools available so far.

How Do You Know If Your Information Is Compromised?

Like we reported in our post, US Equifax Website Hacked, Canadians Amongst Millions Affected, you can head to Equifax’s special website to see if you were impacted by the breach. Equifax is also cooperating with MasterCard and Visa to alert any affected customers. If one of your credit cards was involved in the breach, you’ll be contacted by your financial institution.

What’s Next For Canadians?

Even if you aren’t one of the 8,000 customers affected by the breach, the attack provides a reminder about the importance of security. Security breaches are becoming more and more common these days, so you need to be vigilant about how you store and share your personal information.

As a consumer, you can watch your credit carefully by watching for any suspicious activity in any of your accounts. If you suspect you’re a victim of fraud, set a fraud alert on your credit report. This signals to credit companies that you account may be compromises, so they’ll treat any changes to your file carefully in case someone is attempting to open new accounts in your name.

As a business owner, you must ensure your security strategies are thorough. Your plan should involve comprehensive online security measures, physical security for storage, and staff education. You also need document shredded at your office to make sure your company is doing everything within its power to protect its intellectual property and its customers’ personal information. If you don’t, you risk exposing confidential information.

There are laws in Canada that make these security steps mandatory, so don’t get caught with an deficient security plan. If you do, you can face expensive fines and irreparable damage to your reputation. As one of the fastest growing municipalities in the GTA, we know a lot of our corporate customers are located in Vaughan. Businesses have been trusting us as their number one shredding company in Vaughan for over a decade, so please give us a call if you need help boosting your security plan this fall.

Whether you suspect you’re one of the many victims involved in Equifax’s security breach or not, we welcome your call about secure document shredding. If you’re ready to talk about paper shredding, electronic data destruction, or recycling, then pick up the phone!

Add comment October 23rd, 2017

In The News: Avro Arrow Found In Lake Ontario

In the next installment of our semi-regular feature, In The News, the team at Absolute Destruction considers the recently recovered Avro Arrow. Found at the bottom of Lake Ontario near Point Petre, the remains of the iconic fighter jet provide an unlikely lesson for our readers.

The Avro Arrow — a supersonic, delta-winged, twin-engined interceptor aircraft designed and prototyped during the Cold War — was supposed to be the crowning achievement of Canada’s aviation industry, but it’s abrupt cancellation in 1959 grounded the jet before it could ever leave the ground. Since then, it’s reached a near mythic reputation as the nation mulls over what once could have been.

In offering document destruction Toronto calls its own, the team at Absolute Destruction isn’t indifferent to the mythos surrounding the Avro. Even nearly 60 years later, the question of ‘what if’ hangs heavy in the air, with some experts suggesting it could have made way for a entirely different Canada — a technologically advanced nation that may have sent a man to the moon.

After 9 models were tested, the Diefenbaker government pulled the plug on the jet, citing mounting costs as their reason for cancellation. With the advantage of time, we can understand a changing political atmosphere was another motive, as cost-effective interceptor missiles superseded expensive fighter jets in the Cold War.

At the time of its cancellation, Ottawa ordered the company to destroy everything related to the Avro project, including any completed jets, but the remains found in Lake Ontario suggest engineers skirted these commands.

OEX Recovery Group, the expedition company responsible for the find, posted a picture capturing the sunken Avro found through its Raise the Arrow project. At the time of this article, only photographs of the free-flight model are available, but there are plans to recover the target so it can be displayed at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum.

But what does this all have to do with the document shredding experts in Markham? As a prominent shredding service in the GTA, Absolute understands the Avro Arrow represents the potential of Canadian engineers and scientists; however, its recovery acts as a reminder of a completely different sort.

What was supposed to be destroyed was merely dumped, and in the near future, OEX will be able to recover its remains. Though its water-logged hull will never fly, it will reveal key details we thought lost about the Avro.

Without complete destruction, classified information is always retrievable. It takes a lot to sink a model fighter jet. In comparison, dumping paper documents or old gadgets in the garbage is incredibly simple. So easy, in fact, that you may think it a better alternative than hiring a professional shredding service to demolish the evidence.

Unfortunately, when you throw out full sheets of paper containing important personal information or toss computers with financial data saved to their hard drives, the easier route can end up hurting you.

In 2017, the secrets recovered from the Avro will help us see the advances the aviation industry made in the 50s. But any recovery of your PI now will result in identity theft, tanked credit scores, and potential legal troubles for businesses.

As a GTA business owner, you’re responsible by law to properly dispose of any paper or electronic data containing client information. Don’t do what the personnel tasked with “destroying” the Avro Arrow did. Commit to absolute destruction by hiring our mobile shredders in Oakville, Markham, Toronto, or anywhere else in the GTA. We’re only a phone call away, and we’ll make sure what you need destroyed stays that way.

Add comment October 2nd, 2017

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