How do you dispose of your Smart Home?

23 Feb

A few weeks back, I worked with the SH&BA to publish guidance on the Security of your Smart Home.

Shortly before we went to print I sold my car, and suddenly realised there was a big gap in the document.

Safe Disposal

Smart Home disposal iconWe are looking at a revision of the document and I would like to receive comments on the following as additional advice for a potential extension of the document…

Before disposing of any asset that has connected to your home network (phone, laptop, smart lightbulb, car…), make sure you delete all configuration information:

  • Car: remove Bluetooth pairing and delete any downloaded address books (I remembered this just in the nick of time before I handed my car over to the new owner);
  • Phone: remove memory cards, perform a factory reset;
  • Smart device (kettle, lightbulb etc.): perform a factory reset;
  • Laptop: delete personal data !?!

This last item is where I need help from readers of Cyber Matters. How can you do this easily and effectively? Options I can think of…

  1. Delete personal files (My Docs, Browser History) – is this sufficient, we know deleted data can be recovered.
  2. Augment 1) with “now fill the drive with random data to overwrite deleted files”, for example, keep copying a music file until the disk is 100% full.
  3. Use a secure delete tool. What recommendations do you have for an easy to use one?
  4. Encrypt the full hard drive, and throw away the key – hard for the non-technical savvy. (This will also destroy the operating system – if passing to a new owner, they may have an issue with this).
  5. Send the PC to a secure disposal facility. What companies have readers tried?

Secondly, while “factory reset” will be acceptable advice for many for a smart phone and smart devices, it is not infallible. Do you need to physically destroy the device? (How do you do this safely?). What if you are passing to another user for second hand use – is there an equivalent to “fill the disk with random data”?

The more I think about all of this, disposal is really hard, especially if you wish to pass the device to the second-hand market.

Please provide your advice in the comments section below.

One Response to “How do you dispose of your Smart Home?”

  1. ajfindlay February 24, 2016 at 04:00 #

    It is almost impossible to safely clean a computer and leave the OS intact (even under Linux – think of logfiles, caches, network configuration etc).
    My suggestion: boot Linux from recovery media, and do:
    dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda bs=1024k
    Do it twice if flash disks are involved.

    Some PCs have a semi hidden recovery partition so if you are careful what you wipe you might then re-install the factory image. Otherwise install Linux.


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