Are You Disposing of your Data and Digital Storage Devices Properly?
In 2003, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) conducted a study, where they obtained 158 used hard drives from eBay and other sources. They found that only 12 drives had been properly destroyed to the point where data was unrecoverable. The graduate students from MIT were able to recover data from the remaining 146 drives! The data included thousands of credit card numbers, medical records, emails and other sensitive data!.
Properly disposing of your digital storage devices is not only to protect sensitive data but it is a legal obligation as well in many countries. Not done properly, it can result in costly charges!
How many times have you thought “That’s easy, I’ll just delete all the files”?! Well deleting files in many systems can be compared to shredding the table of contents of a book while the actual text is still there!
How can you make sure that your data is safe?
Using designated software tools.
Physically destroying the storage devices.
Degaussing, which is a process of neutralizing the magnetic field on storage devices.
Using a professional disposal service, preferably one that provides a certificate of destruction.
For more information, please check Seagate’s “Drive Disposal Best Practices: Guidelines for Removing Sensitive Data Prior to Drive Disposal.”
Here’s a very relevant and recent example of what can happen if this matter is not taken seriously!
“Halifax man finds recycled hard drive with sensitive military information. Stevens said he recovered about 10 G of data from the 30 G hard drive, including 6,000 photos, spreadsheets with the names and numbers of military personnel and their families, and completed applications for security clearance.”