Protecting IP through computer upgrades

If there is one thing of value to a company then it is intellectual property. Intellectual property comes in a wide range of forms. Whether it be designs for parts, processes, systems or trade secrets, IP protection is vitally important. Business IT security usually focuses on protecting servers from hacking and from cyber attack, but a common risk is often left exposed.

When computers are upgraded and parts are left aside unwanted then there is a real risk of these falling into the hands of someone who could steal your intellectual property and sell it on to the highest bidder. These parts are often untracked and unconsidered in security procedures but this should be a key part of policy whenever an upgrade is carried out. Here we explore how these items can be cleaned and made safe.

Creating a policy

The first important step is to create a policy. Employees and members of the IT team may not even consider the risks of leaving an unwanted hardrive somewhere unsecure, or even of chucking it in a bin. Creating a policy for the return of all bits of IT equipment to the IT department or manager is the first step in protecting your IP through upgrades.

Deleting content

Wiping the content from the drives is a good first step to protecting your IP. Make sure that everything is deleted from drives and format the hard drive to take it back to its original state. This step is important, but you should in no way think that your drive is clean at this point. An average person won’t be able to recover data, but there is plenty of software hackers can use to access this data once it’s ‘deleted’.


Sending the drive for reuse is a great way to prevent wastage and, in most cases, the equipment you are throwing out from a business is perfectly good for use in schools and small business that need a helping hand to get started. The benefit to using an IT recycling company to recirculate your drive is that they will carry out a full hard drive wipe to get rid of all traces of any data that you had on it. The use of systems that repeatedly upload and then delete files from your hard drive will ensure there is zero trace of data left that can be stolen. This process is more effective in protecting information than destruction is and your hard drive will then be rehomed with someone who can make use of it too. This process is simple and easy for businesses and it will greatly improve your intellectual property protection.