What happens to the confidential data on hard drives and other storage media in your organization when you replace them? It’s a vital question to ask – because unless the data is completely erased, there’s a good chance that it could come back to haunt you. There’s no shortage of stories of valuable data found on hard drives bought second-hand or salvaged from the garbage.
There are also numerous state and federal regulations, as well as specific industry regulations such as the health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), which require personal and other information be securely deleted before storage media are discarded or reused.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Guidelines for Media Sanitization recommends three different ways to “sanitize” a hard drive:Let’s take a look at each of these methods in turn.
Method # 1: Wiping Data from Your Drive
Disk wiping is a secure method of ensuring that data, on your computer and storage devices is irrecoverably deleted before recycling or donating the equipment. Because previously stored data can be brought back with the right software and applications, the disk wiping process will actually overwrite your entire hard drive with data, several times. Once you format you’ll find it all but impossible to retrieve the data which was on the drive before overwriting.
Disk Wiping Standards
The government standard (DOD 5220.22-M), considered a medium security level, specifies three iterations to completely overwrite a hard drive six times. Overwriting the entire contents of a drive with 0s, 1s, or random data is a technique used to make the original contents unreadable. To be sure that this is as effective as possible, some agencies recommend overwriting multiple times, using 1s, then 0s, and then random data – but recent research suggests that a single overwrite is in fact sufficient. Disk wipe applications will typically overwrite the master boot record (MBR), partition table, and every sector of the hard drive.
There are a variety of products available for different operating systems that you can purchase, or freely downloaded online to perform more secure disk wipes. If time to perform the disk wipe is a consideration, there are also tech security companies who offer disk wipe services. One of different data wiping software is Tabernus which provides you with:-
Method # 2: Purging Data from Your Drive-Degauss
The easiest way to purge a drive – is Purging data by degaussing:
A Degausser creates a strong magnetic field. When any magnetic media such as a hard disk drive, floppy disk, magnetic tape, or Zip drive is inserted and the machine activated, the media are completely erased and rendered permanently inoperable in a matter of a few seconds.
Portable HD Degausser[Fig:-Garner HD-3WXL-300 drives/hour] are also available now a days and people can make sure that their old hard drive leave the building, clean of all data.
Method # 3: Physically Destroying Your Drive
Destroying a storage medium ensures that its data is unreadable. Typically this is carried out at an outsourced metal destruction or incineration facility with specific capabilities to perform these activities effectively, securely, and safely.
Surprisingly, damaging disks by bending the platters by as little as a few millimeters has been found to destroy the disks beyond any form of practical data recovery – even though the data is still intact on them.
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