E-waste: Bring out your dead (phones)

E-waste: Bring out your dead (phones)

Today, we’re observing World Environment Day with a quiz question:  

What makes your mobile phone work?   

Pixel dust, tiny hamsters on wheels, microscopic pulleys and levers? 

Those would all be more environmentally friendly than the heavy metals that live in your phone (though we can’t say for sure about the pixel dust).   

That’s right:  Your phone depends on heavy metals like cadmium and lead to function.  And when the phone has served its purpose and decides it’s time for its soul to go to e-heaven, those heavy metals could contaminate the environment if that phone is unceremoniously tossed in the trash.   

It’s not just phones that cause heavy metal pollution when disposed of improperly — computer components, monitors, printers, tablets, smart devices (like watches), and their batteries  all contain substances that, when they come into contact with soil and water, create dangerous environmental conditions.  It’s called “e-waste,” and it is responsible for over two-thirds of the heavy metals that are found in landfills. 

That may sound vaguely ominous — but the public health impact is very real. Heavy metals in landfills leach into groundwater and are associated with high rates of cancer and birth defects.  Makes you wish that pixel dust were really a thing, doesn’t it? 

So, these devices (like phones, watches, monitors and old TVs) are easy to bury in a dumpster, but we beg you: Please don’t be tempted to just pitch old electronics.   

The better idea is to recycle.  Recycling is easier than ever, with dozen of locations throughout Chicagoland to drop off your recyclable materials.   

E-waste Centers

Learn more about what you can recycle and why here: 

And find a drop-off location by putting your zip code in here: 

Here’s the DuPage County Online Recycling Guide: 

And information for Cook County recycling is here: 

If you’re holding on to old electronics because you’re concerned about your data getting into the wrong hands, you can read here about data removal from old electronics: 

And finally, World Environment Day is a real observance — we didn’t just make it up.  You can read about that here: 

We leave you with a closing thought:  Why not celebrate World Environment Day by actually enjoying the environment?  Put the phone down and get outside.  Take your kids to the park.  Go for a walk.  Enjoy the sunshine.  Your phone and laptop won’t mind at all. 

Your microwave isn’t spying on you but your printer could be

Your microwave isn’t spying on you but your printer could be

So this week, Kelly Anne Conway, Counselor to the President of the United States made a comment about a microwave being able to spy on you.

Not many homes I know have the microwave hooked up to the Internet so the entire idea of it happening is a bit ridiculous.

However, did you know that your printer could be an open gateway to your network?

Printers are safe, right?

Most people don’t even think twice about a printer.

  • Network printer, perfect! Everyone can print.
  • Wireless printer? Even better!
  • Over the air printing from my phone or tablet? Wonderful.

All of these options leave your network and data vulnerable to hackers. Known cases include hacking in to the printer from handheld devices watching all of the data from your print queue. They don’t even need to be in the same building as your printer.

Sensitive documents? No more.
Paper copy is the only copy? Nope.

Concerned? We are and we think you should be too and get ahead of the game. We are working with National Resource and Management to help secure and your devices beyond your firewall and computers.

Keeping your data safe

How should you keep your printer and network safe? It is similar to computer safety and maintenance:

  • Verify the security of your firewall and router. Updates are a must.
  • Secure the wireless connectivity to each device.
  • Install malware and virus protection on all devices. Yes, even printers need malware protection.
  • Create difficult to hack passwords on all network accessible devices instead of using the default passwords.
  • Confirm the version and security of your firmware on all devices. Printers have hard drives and computers inside, so they need updating too.

Secure your computing environment NOW.

If this seems like too much to handle, SMB Advantage Group and National Resource and Management have teamed up to offer a full inspection of your network and printing devices. Once the assessment is complete, you will know how secure your network is and if necessary, what steps need to be taken to keep them secure. Peace of mind for a locked down and usable environment. You will sleep better at night, we promise.

Fill out the form below to make your appointment or give us a call at 630-516-1207.

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