Ethical hard drive disposal

Secure data deletion

Posted on Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Increasingly restrictive data protection regulations mean that businesses need to take extra care when retiring old hardware.

Redundant disks are a constant source of potential problems – especially as some organizations are still reselling disks containing recoverable personal data. Indeed, some 40% of disks tested by the National Association for Information Destruction still contained personally identifiable information.

It is absolutely vital that used disks are disposed of safely – to prevent unauthorized data recovery, and to meet your corporate social responsibility targets.

Secure data deletion

In our experience, most businesses retain the hard drives from arrays at decommissioning. In doing so, they remain responsible for ensuring data is securely deleted.

Clearly formatting drives does not place unwanted data beyond recovery. Every drive must be overwritten several times to ensure its sectors cannot be recovered.

A faster, more effective data deletion technique is degaussing. By exposing disks to extremely powerful magnetic fields, each platter’s own magnetic field is disrupted, making any data stored on it unrecoverable.

The ultimate data deletion option is to physically destroy the disk platters themselves – shredding is extremely effective. Using this technique, the platter cannot be accessed, let alone any data stored on it.

But there is a problem

There is reassurance in safety in destroying data in-house; because you can “see” and control the process, you feel more secure in the knowledge that data really has been put beyond recovery. There is a problem however – disposing of leftover hardware.

Hard disk drives contain several environmentally unfriendly chemicals and elements – so responsible disposal is an expert’s job. It is unethical to simply send unwanted hardware to landfill.

Instead, your business should seriously consider using a hardware recycling service – even if you don’t have a corporate social responsibility program in place. These services will separate and dispose of dangerous chemicals from your old devices, and arrange for as much of the remaining materials to be recycled as possible.

Because the devices are physically disassembled and melted down, you also gain another layer of protection against data loss. In fact, once recycling is completed, personal data recovery is altogether impossible.

So you can meet your security obligations and do your bit for the planet too.

To learn more about secure data asset disposal services, please get in touch.