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What is data destruction?

Data destruction refers to the process of removing data from systems. When data is destroyed, information retrieval by nefarious persons and/or threat actors cannot occur. However, deleting data is not necessarily the same as destroying data.

Data destruction methodologies, from physical shredders to data destruction software, remain critical in fully destroying or overwriting materials that include sensitive data. Ultimately, data must be irretrievable in order for it to be considered “destroyed”.

Data destruction methods explained

Enterprises can fully destroy data via a process known as degaussing. In the degaussing process, magnetic storage tape and disk data is destroyed through changes to the magnetic field. In this process, a person must determine the strength of the magnetic field needed to destroy the data; a challenging feat at times. In the event that a person makes an error when it comes to degaussing, data security diminishes.

Special types of shredders can function to destroy certain types of storage media. They can destroy tapes, optical media and devices like hard drive disks. While overwriting data represents a viable option in some instances, organizations can only overwrite data where storage media remains in-tact.

Many vendors now offer data destruction software programs. Sometimes, experts term these programs “data sanitization software” or simply refer to the process as data erasure. Service providers offer data destruction software programs for Windows, OS, Linux and Unix operating systems.

Document shredding represents a classic and effective means of destroying printed documents. Pick up and drop off document shredding options exist for organizations that prefer to offload shredding en-masse to third-party service providers.

e-Waste management 

If disposing of an electronic devise, organizations should consider the fact that a non-wiped device can represent a security hazard. Hackers may attempt to pinch data. Once data has been removed or secured, electronics recycling can represent a critical element of a responsible data and technology management. In the same vein, computer and device destruction services are available worldwide. For organizations that must abide by HIPAA or other stringent regulations, proper transport, removal and electronics dismantling is important.

Why does data destruction matter?

Data destruction is important for organizations, as it prevents data from being used for nefarious purposes. Properly disposing of no-longer-needed data can reduce your cyber risk. Cyber criminals often attempt to capture data. In the event that they can interface with your systems, the less data available, the better. Ensure that your retired IT data does not put your enterprise at-risk. Improved chain-of-custody processes can yield better business outcomes in the long-run.

Nonetheless, many enterprises remain behind the times when it comes to data destruction. Organizations need to first identify data that needs destruction, the types of devices on which it is located and must then determine total costs of data destruction. Further, organizations should think about compliance and needs around documentation for regulators. In some instances, video evidence of complete data destruction can be requested in order to ensure that compliance requirements are adhered to.

Lastly, for organizations with massive quantities of data, but that remain unsure of where to start, some data destruction firms offer IT audit services, where data destruction firm representatives survey private inventories, provide reports and recommend data destruction options.

See Cyber Talk’s expert insights into data destruction here. For more information about securing intellectual property, click here.