The need to protect data has become acute in the modern enterprise, but this requirement comes with many challenges. In particular, many businesses face so many potential attack vectors and threats that they end up neglecting best practices in some areas to keep up with challenges in others. This is often the case when it comes to properly destroying data. According to a report from CIO magazine, the cost and complexity of data breaches are rising, yet many people still rely on pressing delete buttons when it comes time to destroy data. This practice only adds to an already risky situation by leaving information that users think is safe exposed to threats.
In practice, data that is deleted from hard disks and solid state drives is largely recoverable through specialized software and other methods, making any less-than-precise data destruction practices problematic. What’s more, a study from Shred-It found that properly destroying hardware is a growing need among businesses. While the research focused on mobile devices, the reality is that any type of storage media left undestroyed can leave a company vulnerable, and the variety of device types used in the modern enterprise is making proper destruction processes essential.
With all of this in mind, many businesses will store decommissioned hard disks and SSDs in a secure location and periodically send them out to third-party specialists for destruction. While this process has its merits, it also creates plenty of opportunities for data to be stolen or otherwise compromised during the process. Organizations that want to truly control their data and ensure it gets destroyed can benefit from keeping processes in-house, and modern hard disk degaussers are emerging as prime options in this area. Three reasons to keep data destruction in-house are:
1. Control over every step of the process
Sensitive data controlled by industry or government regulations needs to be kept track of at all times. It isn’t enough to simply keep this information safe, organizations must document that they have done what’s necessary to protect data at all times. This can prove tricky when companies must manually record the location of decommissioned hard disks, monitor their handling prior to shipping, track HDDs during shipment to a third-party specialist and confirm that the storage media has been properly destroyed. Moving these processes in-house makes documentation much simpler by eliminating third-party stakeholders and the visibility problems that come when depending on an outside partner to properly destroy disks.
“Magnetic methods for HDD destruction are providing an invaluable level of security.”
Increasing control over storage media isn’t just useful from a regulatory perspective, it also makes it easier to protect against insider threats. While individuals within your organization may still be able to get to decommissioned HDDs, you can put controls in place to limit that possibility. Depending on a third-party destruction partner, however, can leave you unsure of who may handle the media at any time during transit or destruction, opening up opportunities for an insider to steal information. Having one hard disk slip through the cracks is difficult when dealing with a few hundred each year, but data destruction companies handling thousands of disks on an everyday basis can easily end up with gaps in their security.
2. Absolute assurance of destruction
There are a variety of methods available to erase data, but they do not all work equally well. Physical destruction can be problematic if a disk does not get entirely shredded. Any physical access to significant parts of a disk can allow experts to recover data. Software data wipes are even more vulnerable to leaving some information available for recovery. Magnetic wipes performed by a hard disk degausser, on the other hand, destroy all information on a hard disk, making that data entirely unrecoverable. Human error, inferior methodologies and similar problems can slip in if companies are not extremely cautious about who they partner with. One way to avoid this risk is to keep the disk destruction process in-house and verify proper deletion at every time.
3. Keeping operational expenses under control
The idea of subscribing to a service instead of spending capital on hardware has turned the technology world on its head, but the long-term costs of paying for a service can easily add up to more than an organization would spend for a hardware-based solution. In the case of degaussers, a machine with a long service life can allow you to recoup the initial cost of purchase by saving on service subscriptions. The combination of control and security can combine with these long-term cost benefits to create a significant return on investment for organizations that run through a large number of hard disks, such as cloud service providers or businesses supporting large internal configurations.
Magnetic methods for hard disk destruction are providing a level of security that is invaluable in the modern enterprise, and bringing a degausser in-house can be beneficial on a few levels.