No matter the industry or location, the vast majority of businesses rely heavily on computers for day-to-day tasks. With almost all operations requiring technology, many companies have a plethora of employee and customer data stored on their hard drives. What happens when it's time to replace that equipment? The data doesn't all just magically disappear – even if you think you've deleted everything. If you don't take the necessary precautions, you may just find yourself in a legally compromising situation, and that's the last thing you want to happen. If you're still on the fence about the importance of data destruction and security, check out why you want to ensure all information is destroyed.
Deleted Doesn't Mean Erased. You click the delete button and the files you saw before you are no longer there. If you can't see it, it must be gone, right? Not quite. Even if you delete it from your recycle bin, you're deleting the link to the file and not necessarily the file itself, leaving the data stored on your hard drive or SSD. People with the right software or skillset can recover your files easily. While this is a good thing if you accidentally delete a file and need data recovery, it can become quite the issue if someone with malicious intent gets their hands on your company's data.
Personally Identifiable Information (PII). You would be surprised just how much personally identifiable information is stored on your personal and/or business computer. PII includes usernames, passwords, full name, address, social security number, birth date, and so much more. The right combination of this data could be used to identify you as an individual and later used against you or your employees if the data isn't completely wiped from the hard drive or SSD.
Legal Repercussions. HIPAA, FACTA, FISMA, and PCI were all put into place to protect the privacy of Americans – and they're taken very seriously. These acts cover privacy issues relating to medical and consumer privacy as well as other important, identifying information. Double-check to make sure you know what privacy laws apply to your business to avoid very expensive legal repercussions.
Avoid Worst Case Scenario. Did you know that 60% of small companies close their doors within 6 months after a data breach? It isn't something to be taken lightly, so we recommend taking every precaution possible to prevent these kinds of unfortunate circumstances from happening to you.
Degaussing. Historically, degaussing has been a method of wiping data. This technique essentially uses a magnet to erase data, though many variables play into the reliability and safety of degaussing. We don't use this approach as we have found overwriting and destroying the hard drive or SSD are much more effective ways to protect your data.
Overwrite. After you delete files, they are still stored on your hard drive, sometimes in full and sometimes just fragments. The space they are stored in is just marked as "available for use by something else." If put in the right hands, the "code" that represents those files can be cracked and most or all of the files restored. If you overwrite the data, it replaces all of the information on the hard drive. Since you can't "crack the code" or figure out a formula, it makes it nearly impossible to recover any data. The DoD Standard (5220.22-M) says that replacing data should be done in three passes to ensure a complete overwrite has taken place.
Destroy. Destroying the hard drive or SSD is the most effective way to ensure that data is destroyed. It's important to make sure the platter of the hard drive has been severely damaged/destroyed. At Technical Resource Solutions, we require the device to be physically destroyed before we certify that the data has been wiped. The more damaged the device, the better.
Bonus Tip: Formatting your drive is not sufficient for data destruction. Though formatting allows more data to be added, old data is still recoverable.
No more throwing hard drives or SSDs into dusty closets or dumpsters! For the safety of your company, clients, and employees, be sure to properly dispose of data. At Technical Resource Solutions, we will take care of destroying your data and will provide you with a certificate of destruction. If you have any questions, call us at 678-928-9491!