Data destruction is one of the most crucial information security tasks today. Data that is no longer needed presents several risks to an organization. It needs to be protected from unauthorized access and misuse. Data security has become a big concern today, such that different countries are enacting laws to enforce secure data handling. Data destruction should be a priority for any organization, both profit and non-profit. That is why engaging professional data destruction services is a prudent decision.
What is Data Destruction?
Most people hit the delete button when they no longer need data, for example, old photos, documents or SMS texts. But this data is easily recoverable from storage devices like hard disks. A malicious person can extract this data using forensic tools.
Secure data destruction ensures that data is made completely inaccessible and irrecoverable. This task has become very important in today’s business environment, where organizations hold vast amounts of private data.
Data can be found on a variety of devices: computer hard disks, flash drives, DVDs, CDs, cameras, mobile phones and tape storage. Any medium that stores data is a risk if it lands in the wrong hands.
Data Destruction Methods
There are different data destruction methods, some destroy only the data, while others destroy the data together with the storage media. Secure data destruction services usually opt to destroy the data together with the storage media when dealing with sensitive data. Data destruction methods include:
This data destruction method uses software tools to overwrite the data with meaningless strings of data which is encrypted to make the data irrecoverable. Software overwriting does not destroy the storage media, and it can be reused. Overwriting works well for storage media marked for recycling.
Data storage media uses magnetic fields to store data. A degaussing machine destroys these magnetic fields and the data on them. But degaussing destroys the storage medium as well.
Physical destruction of storage media destroys the data on it as well. This method is very effective when executed properly because it makes the storage media unreadable. Physical destruction methods include:
● Hammering – Crushing with a hammer is a crude and effective method. But you have to use a heavy hammer and hit the media repeatedly. It is not practical for destroying many drives at once.
● Shredding – A shredder is used to disintegrate the storage media into small pieces smaller than 2 inches. An industrial shredder can take several storage media at once
● Drilling – The storage media is destroyed by drilling holes in it.
● Crushing – A high pressure crusher destroys the storage media by crushing and deforming it. This method is also good for destroying many drives at once
● Melting – The storage media is molten in an industrial furnace
Physical destruction methods are very secure because advanced forensic recovery tools become useless. There is no way to recover data from a molten hard disk. Very secure data destruction deploys degaussing, and then physical destruction for total and irreversible data destruction.
Why Do Secure Data Destruction?
Data destruction is no longer optional, but mandatory and enforceable by law. An organization should engage professional data destruction services for several reasons:
Comply With Data Privacy Laws
Different countries have passed laws to safeguard private data. The most comprehensive is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe. This law requires that any organization holding European citizens’ data put in place secure data disposal measures for private data.
There is no single data privacy law in the US, but several laws that were enacted with different industries in mind. Organizations in the finance industry must comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. Insurance businesses are covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Other jurisdictions around the world have also enacted data privacy laws that must be followed when handling their citizens’ data. For example, Singapore has the Personal Data Protection Act(PDPA).
Avoid Legal Penalties
Secure data protection prevents data breaches. Data privacy laws have placed very high penalties for organizations that suffer data breaches because of poor data handling. The GDPR prescribes a penalty of €20 million, or 4% of a firm’s worldwide annual revenue for infringing data privacy laws. For example, in Germany fashion company H&M was fined €35 million ($41 million).
In the US, the HIPAA attracts up to $1.5 million for breaking the law. Financial firm Morgan Stanley was fined $60 million for improper handling of client data on obsolete hardware.
Avoid Cybersecurity Threats
Hackers can use data on obsolete hardware to map an organization’s network. This data is useful in supplying information on both employees and clients. The hackers can then use this information in different attacks like phishing, database breaches, and business email compromises.
Secure data destruction services in proper handling of this vital information security task. By engaging professionals, an organization is safe knowing that these risks have been eliminated.