ED WATERS Jr.
The Frederick News-Post
FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — A table at e-End holds jars full of tiny pieces of metal and plastic that were once cellphones, rifles and even body armor.
The company, which specializes in destruction of information and equipment, is certified to work with the Department of Defense, Secret Service, Homeland Security, and other agencies, embassies and government contractors.
The company assures that when it is done with the equipment, there is no data or recognizable parts that could be used by an enemy of the United States.
E-End just moved into the new building at 7118 Geoffrey Way in Frederick, which was outfitted to meet its strict security demands. There are cameras and metal-detecting equipment, a secure sign-in area, and no visitor goes into the 20,000-square-foot site without an escort.
Arleen Chafitz is owner and CEO of the company, a certified woman-owned small business, and her husband, Steve, is president.
Many people come into e-End to recycle a computer or other electronic devices, but they may not be aware of the high security involved in the company’s activities.
Besides the Chafitzes, there are 15 employees, all of whom have had in-depth security screenings and hold security clearances. Some work is done at the location, and e-End also has a mobile unit with its own 480-volt generator to work on site at military and other government sites.
“A lot of people build precision stuff; we destroy it,” Steve Chafitz said.
“It used to be we did mostly hard drives,” Steve Chafitz said. “Now it is demilitarization under the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations.”
When a weapon, optical reader, body armor, electronic device or other item is taken out of service, e-End removes all the information and takes the item down to tiny pieces of metal, some into a powder of less than 2 millimeters in size.
“We do a lot of work for the Secret Service,” said Arleen Chafitz. “Not just computers, but collapsible batons, even special wallets, night vision equipment, targets.”
Steve Chafitz said government agencies have things that look like a book or a toy or a lamp that contains an eavesdropping or tracking device.
“You could pick up that book and look through it and think it is nothing but a book, but there is something embedded in it. We destroy it so that it can’t be used by someone who shouldn’t have that information.”
Shredding of documents doesn’t always work, Steve Chafitz said, noting that there are accounts of people reassembling shredded paper.
“We have to get these items so small there is no way to do that,” he said.
In the world of defense, everything has to be done to avert someone getting data or a piece of equipment and copying it.
All of the items go through an audit certified by an international standard known as R-2. An exact record of every piece of equipment that is destroyed by e-End is tracked from the time an employee touches it to where all the parts, if any are left to be reused or recycled, end up, and who has touched those parts.
“We have an AAA rating from the National Association of Information Destruction,” Steve Chafitz said.
There is a move to use only U.S.-made solid state boards and other parts for computers and electronic equipment after it was discovered that firms from China had been embedding tracking sensors into boards to gain information from users in the U.S.
“There could be a part in the computer that was letting the Chinese firm know where the computer was and even get information from it without the user knowing it,” Steve Chafitz said. “It is sort of electronic Dumpster diving.”
With many companies putting their data “in the cloud” rather than just stored on equipment, the market is growing to destroy data and recycle parts when possible. Much of the equipment in use today will be obsolete in no time, and older items are brought in for destruction or recycling.
Some parts — from cables and fans to hard drives — once they are “wiped,” can be reused. A licensed Microsoft firm, e-End refurbishes computers and donates them to the Scott Key Center.
The Chafitzes’ company works with entities such as Frederick Memorial Hospital, erasing medical data from equipment when contracted to do so. The firm took its mobile unit to a data center in Marietta, Ga., destroying more than 600 servers and 3,500 hard drives and other items, resulting in 135,000 pounds of electronic end products.
The Chafitzes now destroy electronics, but they began their professional careers by selling such equipment.
The couple grew up in Massachusetts and has been married for 47 years. They moved to the area in 1966, setting up an electronics shop in Rockville. Steve Chafitz created an electronic chess game and later an electronic backgammon game. The latter was the first to beat a human in competition, Steve Chafitz said.
Six years ago, with the market for recycled materials growing, e-End was launched and evolved into a high security business for the destruction of data and equipment, as well as a continued offering of recycling for customers.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)