Proper Data Destruction

The Importance of Proper Data Destruction

By Michael
December 31, 2014

In the old days – before information technology, before big data, before the Internet itself – destroying obsolete records was as simple as lighting a match. Now, the process is trickier. Companies with a backup tape management program in place will inevitably be required to safely dispose of old hard drives and ensure that all the information is completely deleted, so it won’t fall into the wrong hands. That’s why IT teams and management should make every effort to learn the best practice of hard drive destruction and IT asset disposition.

Data is the company’s responsibility to the bitter end
When a backup tape or other hard drive is sent off to a destruction company for disposal, the company that sent it is liable for their data – not the destruction company. This is an important distinction, because if the destruction company fails to adequately eliminate the data and it somehow falls into another’s possession, the original company is immediately at risk and also responsible for any damages incurred.

To be safe, companies can take measures to destroy data from their hard drives before disposing of them, according to Cisco. Overwriting is one method, but once is not enough – experts recommend overwriting the drive at least three times using specialized software. Another technique is to degauss, or demagnetize, the hard drive or backup tape. There are providers out there who can perform this task either onsite of offsite. Finally, shredding the drive or tape is also an effective method – the same way you would shred a paper document. As long as no one accessed the files earlier and copied information, this is also an effective technique.

Bring back accidental deletions
Sometimes, files get deleted that were not supposed to, by way of human error or neglect. Unfortunately, if a hard drive that contained critical data is destroyed, it will be very difficult to retrieve that information. The best solution is a good tape backup system, maintains IT Pro. Human error is almost impossible to avoid, so an insurance policy is a must. As data can be safely held and updated in separate backup tapes, files that are accidentally destroyed may be quickly and easily replaced in no time.

With the right data loss prevention and backup tape management platforms, companies can track their data from its creation to its destruction.

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