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Businesses are increasingly becoming dependent on technology, a situation that has led to the creation of a lot of digital data. Ensuring data destruction is carried out to the highest standards is essential for businesses, government agencies, and individuals who deal with sensitive data. In this guide, we will take an in-depth look at why data destruction is an important component of any Data Management plan.
Data Destruction Techniques
There are three main ways through which data destruction can be carried out: degaussing, physical destruction, and overwriting.
Degaussing uses specialized, high-powered magnets to destroy data. This is a technique that only works on data storage devices that use magnets — usually hard disks. The degaussing equipment works by disrupting the magnetic fields in the drives. The degaussing process destroys the drive permanently as it damages the magnetic storage system. It is, therefore, unsuitable when you want to reuse the drive.
2. Physical Destruction
This is a technique that works by destroying the storage device in a manner that makes it impossible to reconstruct. This ensures that any data that was stored in it can no longer be retrievable. The drives can be destroyed through incineration, crushing, or shredding. As with degaussing, the damage is permanent, and the drive cannot be reused.
This works by erasing existing data by overwriting it with new data. It requires specialist software which has to meet the standards set by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). Overwriting can be carried out as a single wipe or through multiple wipe cycles, depending on the sensitivity of the data. It is the most cost-effective technique. It does not destroy the drive, which can be reused or sold.
Data Destruction and Cybersecurity
A lot of the data that is held by businesses can be used to compromise their online systems. Employee personal information can be used to impersonate authorized personnel online. Information on your online security protocols can be used to compromise your cybersecurity. Even worse, personal information on clients and employees can be used to steal their identity and compromise their finances.
Data destruction is the most effective way to ensure that your data does not fall into the wrong hands. This is particularly important when decommissioning your equipment, especially if it is going to be resold or recycled.
Importance of Data Protection
Data destruction is all about data protection. To understand why data destruction is so essential for businesses, it is important to understand the importance of data protection. Data protection is vital because:
1. It is a Legal Requirement
Both on the federal and state levels, there are a number of laws that require businesses to protect their client’s personal information. When client information is compromised due to inadequate (or non-existent) data destruction protocols, a business will attract punitive measures from the concerned regulatory bodies. It also exposes the business to expensive lawsuits from affected clients.
2. It Protects the Business’ Reputation
Data breaches, especially those attributed to negligence from a business, can permanently damage the business’ reputation. Personal information on your clients and employees can be used in identity theft scams and other fraudulent activities. Nobody wants to do business with an organization that cannot protect their data.
3. This Data is Under Constant Threat
Every day, your data is under constant threat from fraudsters, corporate espionage, and hackers who hold your data ransom for money. You need to be proactive regarding protecting your data.
Legislation Regarding Data Destruction in the United States
34 States — and Puerto Rico — have laws in place regarding data destruction. While the specific wording is different, the laws require sensitive data to either be destroyed or to be made indecipherable. These laws either apply to government agencies, private businesses, or both.
States with legislation that covers both government entities and private businesses are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon, South Carolina, Washington, and Puerto Rico.
States whose laws only cover private businesses are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Wisconsin. Virginia is the only state that has legislation that only covers government agencies.
On the federal level, the FCC has set the data disposal rule. This requires any business using consumer reports to determine eligibility for credit, employment, insurance, or any other purpose to use proper data disposal techniques for all the personal data within their systems.
Why Should You Use a Professional Data Destruction Service?
The simple answer is: “They will do the job properly.” Simply deleting your data does not destroy it; it can still be retrieved and compromised. Trying to do it yourself with data erasure software will not guarantee the destruction of data. Professionals have the expertise and experience to guarantee the destruction of your data. They have a chain of custody protocols that ensures that your drives are safe and secure throughout the entire process.