Best Practices for Data Destruction

Best Practices for Data Destruction

By Marcus Ho

October 20, 2021

With the rise of digital technologies, individuals and businesses now generate data faster than ever before. Recent reports show there’s 40 trillion gigabytes of data out there and it’s an invaluable asset. Data is now critical in decision making for governments and corporations. The internet has also seen individuals create large volumes of data about their lifestyles and those around them.

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While data is essential in virtually every aspect of life, it’s also sensitive and needs careful handling. When your data storage devices reach the end of their life, the data they hold has to be destroyed in a safe and secure manner. This is to prevent sensitive information about clients or operations from falling into the wrong hands.

Secure data destruction by professionals has emerged as a critical practice in modern business. When disposing of your devices, consider the information they contain and ensure a professional handles the process. Working with data destruction services protects your individual or business brand. Data loss can debilitate your brand through loss of customer trust, loss or theft of intellectual property, reputation damage, financial losses, legal problems, and other devastating consequences.

This post explores the best practices for data destruction to help you choose the most secure tactic.

The Pros and Cons of Different Data Destruction Methods

The decision you make on destruction of data in end-of-life IT assets can have a major impact on your business. Many businesses simply dispose of these devices without a second thought about the valuable asset they contain. Over the years, your business devices collect a lot of sensitive information about your business, products, clients, future plans, and so much more.

If this data falls into the wrong hands, there’s a real risk of your business collapsing. Such data can fall into the hands of online frauds who can start extortion scams. Your competitors can also have a field day if they learn about your business secrets. Losing clients’ data can debilitate even the most established brands, which is a good reason to consider the best practices to destroy data.

You need to identify the most effective data destruction techniques and analyse their pros and cons. These techniques include overwriting/data wiping, degaussing, physical destruction of devices, data erasure, electronic and solid state shredding, and others. Your data destruction company will advise on the most applicable solution based on the type of devices you have and the data in these assets. The data destruction company tailors their data destruction solutions to suit your business needs.

Overwriting for Complete Data Erasure

Overwriting is one of the most popular practices in data destruction. This involves writing new materials over the original data to make it unreadable. The practice of data erasure or wiping prevents access of your data in end-of-life devices. In most cases, you only overwrite the data once, but in high-security applications, the client can decide to go for multiple wipes for that extra assurance.

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Pros of overwriting include:

  • Using set patterns to replace original data helps to verify that data wiping is complete
  • Additional layer of assurance that data with multiple wipes
  • Most effective and secure technique for it’s a secure to destroy data you no longer needed
  • There’s no need for physical destruction of your data storage equipment
  • You get a record of the storage equipment involved

Some downsides of overwriting in data destruction include the time-consuming process involved in large capacity data storage. Some data storage systems are not accessible and this means the data is indestructible with this method. This method of destroying data only works if your storage equipment is in good working order.

Degaussing to Destroy Data

One of the fastest methods of data destruction is degaussing. This is a technique of data erasure using strong magnetic fields. A high-powered magnet disrupts the magnetic field of the electronic device to render the data inside unusable. Your data destruction service determines the magnetic field strength requires to destroy data in hard drives, reels, cartridge tapes, diskettes, and other storage systems. If you have a large-capacity data storage system, degaussing works best due to the speed. The technology is ideal for destroying large amounts of data or sensitive data in a device or system.

Some disadvantages of degaussing include the risk of damage to your storage equipment. The technology not only destroys your data but also the hard drive or other equipment in the storage system. If you have a device like PC, a laptop, tablet, or mobile phone which you wish to use in the future, this is not the best data destruction method.

Another downside of using a degaussing machine is the fact that you can’t verify that your data is no longer usable. What’s more, you can’t trace which electronic devices have gone through the process. You might leave sensitive data in your storage device leading to future threats to your business.

Physical Destruction of Data Storage Equipment

When you have no other use of the storage equipment containing the data you wish to destroy, physical destruction becomes a great choice. Some types of physical data destruction include Incineration disk shredding and melting to get an assurance that the data is no longer accessible.

If your end-of-life storage equipment contains very sensitive data, physical destruction is the way to go. However, it’s a costly method because you lose out on the cash you would have gotten from recycling the devices. If your organization has already embraced a green and sustainable program, this form of data destruction also goes against your adopted policies.

Using Data Destruction Services

Whether you want to destroy personal data or business data, it’s important to appreciate the need for professional data destruction services. These data experts have the licensing and compliance certifications for safe and secure data destruction. The service provider offers custom data destruction solutions based on your business needs.

Look for a data destruction company with the right licenses, certifications, and experience to offer these services. Choosing a company that is established and which can verify the data destruction process also protects you.

Whatever you do, don’t dispose of data storage equipment without destroying the data inside professionally.

SPW is Asia's go-to solutions provider for data destruction, data erasure, IT asset remarketing, and environmentally-responsible IT asset disposals. Contact us and learn how you can incorporate an ITAD strategy into your business today. 

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