Auditing is the gathering of all the information that describes the characteristics and the exact condition of each IT asset. The client modules of the Aiken WorkBench automatically detect the specifications of PCs, Macs, Android/iOS smartphones/tablets, monitors, printers and other devices, and provides a systematic way to enter the information that cannot be obtained automatically, such as cosmetic defects. The Workbench suite also includes an Android app to take pictures of those defects and store them into the database for further use, along with the auditing information.
Retrieving the information as it is returned by the hardware is useful, but it is not enough. Experienced ITAD technicians know that hardware manufacturers do not always store information in a consistent way. The Aiken Workbench code has been tweaked with the input of real working environments over various years, so as to deal with the idiosyncrasies of specific computer models, devices and components. It may, among others:
The ultimate purpose of this normalization effort is to get consistent information for all the assets, so it can be automatically used in reports and data processing (export to ERPs, etc) without further human intervention.
All the auditing information is stored in MySQL, an industrial-strength database. The information can be accessed in real time, both locally and remotely, by using the Workbench Manager application, available for Windows, Mac and Linux. ITAD companies can also distribute this application to their customers or suppliers for free, so they can follow remotely the work in progress, print their own reports and erasure certificates and export the information to files in their own custom formats.
In addition to using the reporting and exporting capabilities built into the Aiken WorkBench product, the auditing data can also be accessed by using the hundreds of commercial or open source tools available for MySQL and ODBC-compliant databases, or by writing custom programs. Integration with in-house ERP systems at the data level should be straightforward in most cases.
Aiken Workbench includes testing tools to check the condition of the most important components. All the tests can be performed by the technicians while an erasure or imaging operation is ongoing in the background.
The historic information stored on the drives by the SMART diagnosis firmware is retrieved and then analyzed to determine if the drive is in a healthy state.
All USB ports can be tested by inserting any USB device. The Workbench detects and displays the model of the device and compares the total number of detected devices with the expected number.
The Workbench informs both of the actual percentage of useful capacity and of the current charge level of the batteries. It also includes a battery duration test that discharges the batteries until they are exhausted and then saves the total time elapsed into the database.
The panels of laptops and monitors can be tested by showing the basic colors successively, so dead/lit pixels and other anomalies are easily spotted.
The Workbench activates this test when it detects the presence of a Touchscreen, and allows the operator to test the touch input.
The Workbench detects when the user input is coming from the integrated touchpad on laptops, which allows to verify the cursor movement and the press of buttons.
The secure erase feature of Aiken Workbench Version 2 was awarded the security certification of the ADISA organization, after passing rigorous tests at the Cyber Defence Center of the University of South Wales (UK).
The PC Auditor and the Hardware Auditor modules of Aiken WorkBench allow the secure erasing of HDD and SSD drives connected to a computer. They can use both software and firmware-based secure erase methods:
The Mobile Auditor module of Aiken WorkBench allows the secure erasing of mobile devices operating with the two most prevalent platforms:
Once every device has been successfully erased, Aiken WorkBench generates a certificate containing the serial number and model of the device, the erase method used, and the erasure timestamp, among other details. This signature is stored as an encryted object in the MySQL database, and since only the Aiken WorkBench programs can decrypt the information, it cannot be meaningfully altered by any means. The reporting facility of the Aiken WorkBench can later be used to print certificates of erasure that are based on true facts beyond doubt.
Aiken WorkBench integrates the capability of both creating and restoring Windows, Mac OS X and Linux disk images through a Local Area Network. GPT partitions are fully supported in UEFI machines.
The Image Maker component creates the images and keeps them in a centralized image library, where they can easily be retrieved by machine model, operating system installed and other descriptors. The images are completely disk independent. They can be restored to drives smaller or bigger than the original, and even to drives using different interfaces and technologies (SATA to SCSI, magnetic to solid-state, etc).
The same or different images can be restored simultaneously to many machines in a completely unattended mode, using one or multiple Image Servers. The Aiken WorkBench architecture allows extremely flexible setup options in order to optimize the network bandwidth and avoid bottlenecks due to the massive data transfers. A Windows 7 image is typically transferred to one machine in less than 2 minutes; to 30 machines in 20-23 minutes.
The image to be restored can be selected from the PC Auditor interface on every client, but it can also be selected on the server and pushed to all the connected PCs at once. The technicians can also decide if they want to both securely erase the drives first and restore the image immediately afterwards, so the full process is completed without further human intervention. While the drives are being erased or the images are being restored, the machines never get blocked and the technicians can still perform auditing or testing operations on the machines.