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This section of the ISM provides guidance on ICT equipment sanitisation and disposal.

ICT equipment sanitisation and disposal processes and procedures

When disposing of ICT equipment, any media in the ICT equipment should be sanitised in situ or removed and sanitised separately. Once any media has been sanitised or removed, ICT equipment can be considered sanitised. As such, the ICT equipment can then be declassified and formally authorised for release into the public domain. However, if media cannot be sanitised or removed, the ICT equipment will need to be destroyed in its entirety.

In addition, removing labels and markings indicating the classification, codewords, caveats, owner, system or network details as part of the disposal process will ensure ICT equipment does not display indications of its prior use and draw undue attention.

Media typically found in ICT equipment includes:

  • electrostatic memory devices, such as laser printer cartridges used in multifunction devices (MFDs)
  • non-volatile magnetic memory, such as hard disks
  • non-volatile semiconductor memory, such as flash cards and solid state drives
  • volatile memory, such as random-access memory sticks.

Security Control: 0313; Revision: 4; Updated: Aug-19; Applicability: O, P, S, TS
An ICT equipment sanitisation process, and supporting ICT equipment sanitisation procedures, is developed and implemented.

Security Control: 1550; Revision: 0; Updated: Aug-19; Applicability: O, P, S, TS
An ICT equipment disposal process, and supporting ICT equipment disposal procedures, is developed and implemented.

Security Control: 0311; Revision: 5; Updated: Sep-18; Applicability: O, P, S, TS
When disposing of ICT equipment containing media, the ICT equipment is sanitised by sanitising the media within the ICT equipment, removing the media from the ICT equipment or destroying the ICT equipment in its entirety.

Security Control: 1217; Revision: 1; Updated: Sep-18; Applicability: O, P, S, TS
Labels and markings indicating the classification, codewords, caveats, owner, system, network, or any other marking that can associate the ICT equipment with its original use, are removed prior to disposal.

Security Control: 0316; Revision: 2; Updated: Sep-18; Applicability: O, P, S, TS
Following sanitisation, destruction or declassification, a formal administrative decision is made to handle ICT equipment, or its waste, as ‘publicly releasable’ before it is released into the public domain.

Sanitisation and disposal of highly sensitive ICT equipment

The ACSC provides specific advice on how to securely dispose of high assurance ICT equipment and TEMPEST-rated ICT equipment. In addition, ICT equipment located overseas that has processed or stored Australian Eyes Only (AUSTEO) and Australian Government Access Only (AGAO) material can have more severe consequences for Australian interests if not sanitised and disposed of appropriately.

Security Control: 0315; Revision: 5; Updated: Sep-18; Applicability: O, P, S, TS
If disposing of high assurance ICT equipment or TEMPEST-rated ICT equipment, the ACSC is contacted for requirements relating to its secure disposal.

Security Control: 1218; Revision: 2; Updated: Oct-19; Applicability: S, TS
ICT equipment, including associated media, that is located overseas and has processed or stored AUSTEO or AGAO information is sanitised in situ.

Security Control: 0312; Revision: 4; Updated: Sep-18; Applicability: S, TS
ICT equipment, including associated media, that is located overseas and has processed or stored AUSTEO or AGAO information that cannot be sanitised in situ is returned to Australia for destruction.

Sanitisation and disposal of printers and multifunction devices

When sanitising and disposing of printers and MFDs, the printer cartridge or MFD print drum should be sanitised in addition to the sanitisation or removal of any media. This can be achieved by printing random text with no blank areas on each colour printer cartridge or MFD print drum. In addition, transfer rollers and platens can become imprinted with text and images over time and should be destroyed if any images have been retained. Finally, any paper jammed in the paper path should be removed.

When printer cartridges and MFD print drums cannot be sanitised due to a hardware failure, or when they are empty, there is no other option available but to destroy them. Printer ribbons cannot be sanitised and should be destroyed.

Security Control: 0317; Revision: 3; Updated: Sep-18; Applicability: O, P, S, TS
At least three pages of random text with no blank areas are printed on each colour printer cartridge or MFD print drum.

Security Control: 1219; Revision: 1; Updated: Sep-18; Applicability: O, P, S, TS
MFD print drums and image transfer rollers are inspected and destroyed if there is remnant toner which cannot be removed or if a print is visible on the image transfer roller.

Security Control: 1220; Revision: 1; Updated: Sep-18; Applicability: O, P, S, TS
Printer and MFD platens are inspected and destroyed if any images are retained on the platen.

Security Control: 1221; Revision: 1; Updated: Sep-18; Applicability: O, P, S, TS
Printers and MFDs are checked to ensure no pages are trapped in the paper path due to a paper jam.

Security Control: 0318; Revision: 3; Updated: Sep-18; Applicability: O, P, S, TS
When unable to sanitise printer cartridges or MFD print drums, they are destroyed as per electrostatic memory devices.

Security Control: 1534; Revision: 0; Updated: Sep-18; Applicability: O, P, S, TS
Printer ribbons in printers and MFDs are removed and destroyed.

Sanitising televisions and computer monitors

All types of televisions and computer monitors are capable of retaining information if mitigation measures are not taken during their lifetime. Cathode Ray Tube monitors and plasma screens can be affected by burn-in while Liquid Crystal Display screens can be affected by image persistence.

Televisions and computer monitors can be visually inspected by turning up the brightness and contrast to their maximum level to determine if any information has been burnt into or persists on the screen. If burn-in or image persistence is removed by this activity, televisions and computer monitors can be considered sanitised allowing them to be declassified and formally authorised for release into the public domain. However, if burn-in or persistence is not removed through these measures, televisions and computer monitors cannot be sanitised and should be destroyed.

If the television or computer monitor cannot be powered on (e.g. due to a faulty power supply) the unit cannot be sanitised and should be destroyed.

Security Control: 1076; Revision: 2; Updated: Sep-18; Applicability: O, P, S, TS
Televisions and computer monitors with minor burn-in or image persistence are sanitised by displaying a solid white image on the screen for an extended period of time.

Security Control: 1222; Revision: 1; Updated: Sep-18; Applicability: O, P, S, TS
Televisions and computer monitors that cannot be sanitised are destroyed.

Sanitising network devices

Routers, switches, network interface cards and firewalls contain memory that is used in their operation. This memory can often retain network configuration information such as passwords, encryption keys and certificates. The correct method to sanitise a network device will depend on the configuration of the device and the type of memory within the device. Device-specific guidance provided by the ACSC, or vendor sanitisation guidance, should be consulted to determine the most appropriate method to remove information from a network device’s memory.

Security Control: 1223; Revision: 4; Updated: Nov-19; Applicability: O, P, S, TS
Memory in network devices is sanitised using the following processes, in order of preference:

  • following device-specific guidance provided by the ACSC
  • following vendor sanitisation guidance
  • loading a dummy configuration file, performing a factory reset and then reinstalling firmware.

Sanitising fax machines

Fax machines store information such as phone number directories and pages ready for transmission. In addition to the sanitisation or removal of any media within fax machines, the memory should be cleared and any paper jammed in the paper path should be removed.

Security Control: 1225; Revision: 2; Updated: Sep-18; Applicability: O, P, S, TS
The paper tray of the fax machine is removed, and a fax message with a minimum length of four pages is transmitted, before the paper tray is re-installed to allow a fax summary page to be printed.

Security Control: 1226; Revision: 2; Updated: Sep-18; Applicability: O, P, S, TS
Fax machines are checked to ensure no pages are trapped in the paper path due to a paper jam.

Further information

Further information on the sanitisation, destruction and disposal of media can be found in the Guidelines for Media.