Data breaches spark hard-drive shredding boom

This is a great time to be in the hard-drive shredding business, as companies scramble to destroy data before the bad guys have a chance to steal it. A look inside the belly of the beast

The small white truck has been all over New England and beyond, making as many as 10 stops a day. Some customers only need a handful of drives destroyed, others unload thousands of them. Given the demand, the brothers may buy more trucks to accommodate the locals.

The customer pays about US$10 for each hard drive destroyed. The cost is worth it, James says, since the damage from a data breach can be $200 or so per compromised name [The Ponemon Institute most recently estimated the average cost at US$197 per compromised record].

A shredding sensation, across the nation

But the customer base has spread across the nation, requiring the Saraiva brothers to partner up with other shredding companies.

"If you can't cover the whole area - we have customers in California now - you enter into a partnership with similar companies," James says. "When we steer a customer toward a partner in another part of the country, we earn a commission."

So far there are two partners, but negotiations for more partners are underway, James says. The business consists of James, Phil and a secretary and they can manage up to 50 customers locally. But the partnerships have allowed them to expand the customer base into the hundreds.

The data breach epidemic has also translated into big business for Security Engineered Machinery (SEM), which for years has been destroying sensitive data for the federal government. The company is now shredding sensitive electronic records for organizations public and private throughout the United States.

"Our specialty has been selling the shredding equipment to federal agencies so they can dispose of confidential data," says SEM President Peter Dempsey. "In the private sector, they buy the equipment as a knee-jerk reaction when there's a breach. When a breach happens, a CEO will look at the situation and say, 'We need to go out and buy the equipment.'"

An older service, newly discovered

The US Department of Defense had been buying SEM's equipment for nearly 30 years. About seven years ago, however, the company started to accommodate certain customers who were only looking to dispose of three or four hard drives at a time.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags disk-based storagesecuritydata breach

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Bill Brenner

CSO Online
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?