Data has now become a key asset, and as with everything precious, organizations must handle it with extreme care. It needs care not just to be stored and protected but also to be disposed of properly. Some of the biggest threats faced by businesses today include data breaches and data theft.
‘Data Destruction’ is one process that needs to be implemented to ensure data is safe and protected. Simply put, data destruction refers to the process of destroying data that’s not needed anymore. This helps keep the data private and safeguards against some of the most prominent threats such as data breaches, data theft or compliance issues.
Among the several benefits of data destruction, one of the significant ones is reducing overall risk exposure. However, the entire process of data destruction is time-consuming and tedious as it involves a lot of management and supervision.
This brings us to the most pressing question: How do organizations dispose of data securely? There are numerous options available to destroy and dispose of data, but some are not in tune with data destruction policies; others may expose businesses to cyberattacks.
This is why it’s essential for businesses to remain familiar with secure data destruction methods before they write off unwanted, redundant, or obsolete data. In this blog, we will discuss why data destruction is important and ways to dispose and destroy secure data:
1. Legal compliance
Businesses in several industries have made it mandatory to comply with legal duties and requirements. Many organizations have data retention policies in place, but companies often fail to comply with them. Organizations face hefty fines if they do not properly dispose of their data adequately. To give an example, email retention policies have changed over a period of time and have gotten stricter for businesses of all sizes.
There are laws, such as GDPR and HIPAA, set by the state and federal governments that make it the duty of a business to safeguard their clients’ personal information.
2. Unnecessary incurred costs
A data breach is an additional cost incurred to your business. Any undisclosed or impromptu investigation by any regulatory body or a civil lawsuit may hit your business with penalties. Chances may also be that if your system is hacked, you will have to pay thousands of dollars in ransom to a hacker. Also, the costs of storing unnecessary data are a burden and may spiral out of control. Therefore, businesses must make it a practice to delete unnecessary data to save costs.
3. Threat to the goodwill
Goodwill of a business is one thing that businesses strive to preserve for existence. Much of a businesses’ personal image depends on how well it protects the confidential data of its clients and employees. Data breaches have happened in the past and have hit some of the largest corporations and the reputational damage has been humongous. It can also harm the trust of customers, especially because information spreads like fire in today’s digital age.
Such situations can, however, be avoided through vigilance and preventive measures.
What are the best practices of data destruction?
Some of the popular data destruction techniques are listed below:
Degaussing is a unique technique used to minimize or destroy the remnant magnetic field of a storage medium. With the magnetic field being affected, the data is automatically destroyed. Usually, a degausser is used to erase data on the storage medium. The process is such that it renders data completely unrecoverable. This methodology is ideal for disposing of sensitive data on disks that are un-erasable. The only setback is that it leaves the device valueless, and it may not work with other storage mediums afterwards.
Shredding is an irreversible and secure data destruction technique. This method ensures that the data in an electronic medium cannot be read or reused. It is also called disintegrating.
Shredding can be used on thumb drives, credit cards, smartphones, and motherboards. Since it reduces the electronic medium to smaller pieces, it is suitable for sensitive data or environments. The benefit of shredding is that it’s fast, secure, efficient, and cost-effective.
This method is best suited when one wants to dispose of the data and at the same time ensure no damage to the hard drive. Here hard drives are overwritten in such a manner that it safeguards sensitive information from unauthorized users. The left space can be reused to fulfil storage needs.
Erasing doesn’t alter the physical device’s design and is commonly used for devices used in an organization such as hard disks, mobile phones, and USB drives. This powerful data sanitization method may include basic formatting of electronic equipment with specialized software, data purge, and military-grade wiping.
4. Drive destruction
This method includes shredding, burning, or crushing electronic equipment. The ulterior goal is to make sure that the data on the storage device cannot be recovered. With the electronic equipment being of no use later, one must plan how to discard it. Drive destruction is most suited for damaged electronic equipment or has reached end-of-life.
For many organizations, overwriting is the go-to way to dispose of the data securely. It is a method that uses software tools that encrypt the data, making it hard to decode and recover. It renders unreadable characters over the data. However, it doesn’t offer hardened security for advanced storage devices.
It is a cheap process and easy too but takes a long time to be accomplished and is not reliable. Overall, it works well when you want to dispose of data that one might want to reuse securely.
Data management is a complete life cycle wherein data preservation, protection, and destruction are integral parts. In general, we talk and write a lot about data storage and preservation, but little attention is paid to data destruction. It’s not just important but a tedious and laborious process, too, that’s crucial for the success of an organization. The above-mentioned best practices can make the data destruction process smooth.
One can also take the help of professionals and experts to guarantee the destruction of your data. They come with federal privacy regulations and know how to protect your data from cyber-attacks. They will ensure to implement the above techniques so that your drives are safe throughout the entire destruction process.