Responsible Hard-Drive Destruction / Recycle

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:-

  • Certified secure data erasure
  • Detailed reports which can be used as evidence of successful erasure
  • Auditable process – requirement for compliance with IT security
  • Erasure solutions for every need ,offer a full suite of products

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.

Happy deleting!

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Should You Never Sell a Smartphone Due to Data Trails?

The majority of us own a smartphone. How quick do you move onto a newer model?For some this will be related to their contract, often for one or two years, whereas others will opt for the latest phone based on technology each time.

Smartphones are expensive pieces of kit, but we’ve got into the habit of churning through them pretty quickly. Unlike a TV which a lot of people will keep until there’s a massive innovation or until it breaks, there’s more of a routine and cycle to buying smartphones, even when there’s not much difference from last year’s models.

Of course, with so many excess smartphones, it’s no surprise that people want to sell these on in order to offset the costs of their newer device. So they remove their SIM card, take out the SD card if they have one and then factory reset the phone. Then it’s as good as new, right? All your personal data should now be off the device? In fact, it’s not quite as simple as that.

A study by researchers at Cambridge University found that a vulnerability exists on Android device, allowing unscrupulous types to recover some of your data even after a factory reset has been performed. This could be anything that’s ever been stored on your phone’s internal storage, like saved passwords, emails or text messages.

The researchers found that some data is still left in some partitions on a device following a factory reset. This is because Android devices use flash memory, which limits the amount of memory that it allows to be overwritten. There’s no driver that allows the NAND chips to be totally wiped and manufacturers have found it difficult to implement a factory reset feature that completely works.

It’s estimated that around 500 million Android devices don’t have their data fully wiped. The researchers were able to recover the Google master token, which allows access to Gmail and Calendar data, following factory reset on 80% of phones. It’s not just the data that was once stored on the phone that’s at risk, it’s the trails that lead to all the other services you use.

There’s some contention about whether this is a good enough technique, with the researchers claiming that the factory reset doesn’t remove the decryption key from the device – meaning that if the ‘crypto footer’ is recovered then the encryption could be broken offline.

Does this mean you should never sell your smartphone? If you’re more worried about data security, you could use data wiping facilities provided by data recycling companies at a minimal cost.

But if you’re really security conscious then the device is best destroyed than sold.

Share your thoughts /


Steps to prevent your Hard Drive from Disk Failure

  • Do not move your computer when it is Switched ON. Never knock it off.
  • When you are going to take a break from using your computer for a rest, a snack or a meal its best to leave it on. If you are going to leave it for several hours it’s ok to turn it off properly.
  • Be careful about the surrounding area. Your PC needs a good circulation of air. When your computer runs hot it may affect the system and your hard drive. It’s best to place it at a free space and clean it as often.
  • Defragment your drive. Your drive should be used in the most efficient way as possible; defragmenting your drive helps you to achieve that. This will extend the life of your drive by compacting your files and therefore, read heads don’t move as much. Thus, can decrease the work of your hard drive.
  • A lot of OS today can help your hard drive from failure by using power saver options. A Windows 7 computer shut down Hard drive for 20 minutes that can make your hard drive last longer.

A Hard drive lifespan is approximately 5 years, but with constantly falling prices in hard drives, it is more sensible to replace your hard drives every 3 years.

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