By Steven Chmielash
There’s a bounty out there in the hallways of Algonquin. And no, it doesn’t come with a cash reward, but any staff turning in their dead, old and unwanted hard drives, optical media, USB flash drives and diskettes have the opportunity to do so because of the bounty program established by the Information Security department.
Launched in July by Craig Delmage, manager of Information Security at Algonquin, staff can now hand in all electronic devices that contain sensitive information which will then be wiped of all its contents and disposed of in a proper fashion.
“Employees are definitely catching on for sure,” said Robert Turner, an Information Security technologist at the college. “Craig (Delmage) and I are having interviews and giving presentations to the rest of the school on what they could do with this hardware.”
However, once recycling is mentioned in or around the college, Algonquin’s sustainability coordinator, Sarah Dehler called up Delmage and made sure that these storage devices don’t end up in landfills.
“It doesn’t land up in the landfill so we’re being very responsible and that material is being safely recycled,” she said.
To do the disposing, the college hired a private firm, Shred-it, to take the wiped hard drives and flash drives where, if parts are salvageable, they will be recycled and melted down. They will then be re-used in the manufacturing process of new hard drives.
The “material is being safely recycled through the company… once it’s received and then Shred-it then follows the Ontario Electronic Stewardship process so that the valuable materials…are captured and turned into things that are used again,” said Dehler.
According to Turner, more than 20 employees have taken advantage of the program thus far. To date, over 100 hard drives and 500 disks have been collected and were securely destroyed and recycled.
Still, the program is in its early stages of adoption.
“Mostly IT right now is the ones who are turning in the big amounts of hard drives because they’re the ones that see most of the hard drives for the school. But we do have teachers and other faculty members bringing in their old hardware,” said Turner.
What surprised Delmage and his team is the fact that many people just throw away their unused hard drives.
“It’s amazing how people know that they shouldn’t just be throwing this hard drive in the garbage and they don’t know what to do with it,” said Delmage. “They just have not been given an avenue of how to get rid of it.”
Since October marks the start of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, the second initiative that was launched by the Information Security department was a new website aimed at creating computer security awareness.
The site, catered to students, staff, faculty and alumni, provides resources to help users become better informed about current cyber vulnerabilities and threats along with helpful tips on how to protect your smart phone, portable computing and home computing environments.
The goal of the site is to a have cyber-safe mobile learning experience while studying and working at Algonquin.
“The new website has a couple of elements to it and really we want to put everything we possibly can here as an informational tool for students and staff,” said Delmage.
Students and staff are encouraged to visit the site at: www.algonquincollege.com/its/infosec
Many universities and colleges around North America have well-established information security sites, so when Delmage was hired about a year ago, he wanted to put in new programs that would inform students and staff about cyber security.
“It’s an excellent way of getting everybody out there to know the risks and what they could do to help prevent their stuff from being compromised,” said Turner.
As manager of Information Security for the college, Delmage keeps tabs on the threats and vulnerabilities at the college. If he sees something out there that needs to be brought to the attention of students and staff, he’ll post it on the site.
There’s a whole campaign dedicated to cyber security at the information security: Stop. Think. Connect.
And as Delmage explained, the message is simple.
“When you get a message that’s weird, don’t click on it,” he said. “Stop. Think about it and only click on it if it’s safe. If it’s not safe, get rid of it. Delete it. Because the minute you click on it, you could be putting malware onto your device.”
Students and staff should always remember to be wary of what they open online and be smart about divulging sensitive information.
“Information security is everybody’s business,” said Delmage. “It’s all our responsibility to keep our environment safe here at the college.”