Best Practices for Data Destruction

data destruction

Protect Your Business and Your Privacy by Following the Best Data Destruction Practices

There’s a reason why you rarely see bulky file cabinets being used in offices these days. With the advent of computers, portable storage devices, and in recent years, cloud computing, there is no more reason to rely on those old school file storage implements continually.

Still, storing your data electronically does come with a certain amount of risk. If sophisticated technicians decide to target you and the data in your possession, they can find some way in if you are not careful enough.

You can never be too safe with your electronic data, which is why you must handle it properly, even if you no longer need it. Improper data disposal can leave individuals and businesses vulnerable to attackers.

 That’s why you need to be aware of the data destruction methods available and also follow the best practices. Listed below are the methods and practices you need to know about. 

The Different Data Destruction Methods

 According to the Department of Education’s Privacy Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), the data destruction methods fall into three categories.

 The categories are clearing, purging, and destruction. 

Clearing Methods

With clearing methods, the data is erased with the aid of different programs. Clearing methods target the data inside the storage device and destroy them. By opting to go with a clearing method, you can destroy the data contained within the storage unit while still making the device usable in the future.

 Examples of clearing methods include:

  • Deleting data
  • Rewriting data
  • Wiping data
  • Reformatting the storage device

Purging Methods

The purging methods employed to destroy data are even more effective. When you’re purging data, you use a physical or logical technique to render the storage device unusable essentially. Purging methods of destruction are great if your only concern is wiping the data from existence. Still, you will want to use something else if you also want to preserve the storage device for future applications.

 Examples of purging methods include:

  • Degaussing

Destruction Methods

The destruction methods that can be used are permanent solutions that will help you feel more secure about the safety of sensitive information that could be pertaining to you or your business. You are now moving forward with destroying the storage device itself so that it can no longer be used in any way.

 Examples of destruction methods include:

  • Physical destruction
  • Shredding
  • Decommissioning data centers

The Best Data Destruction Practices

 Now that you know about the different ways to destroy data, attention can now be shifted to the best practices that must be employed before, during, and after the processes mentioned above. 

Determine How Long You Need to Hold Certain Types of Data

Businesses will come into possession of mountains of data over the course of its many years of operations. As the amount of data grows, businesses will have a harder time managing what they have at their disposal.

Having such a significant data surplus can be problematic when the time comes for disposal. Destroying so much information all at once can turn into an ordeal unto itself, thus requiring more resources.

It also becomes harder to sift through that much data thoroughly. There’s a non-zero chance that some crucial bits of information that are not supposed to be destroyed will end up getting lost in the shuffle, and that could be bad news for your business.

In order to prevent a situation in which your business has so much data that even processing all that information prior to destruction becomes difficult, you need to set specific guidelines. The guidelines can indicate how long certain files are to be kept within the databases.

Notably, you don’t have to set limits on all types of data currently in your company’s possession. You can earmark certain bits of data for preservation so that they are never at risk for being deleted or destroyed.

 For everything else, the established guidelines will govern them and ensure that your databases never become too disorganized. 

Educate Everyone in the Company about the Data Destruction Policies

After setting guidelines for when certain types of data are to be destroyed, you can start to focus on another important aspect of the process. Education is essential when it comes to destruction policies.

Considering the fact that different employees in your company will handle different types of data, it’s of the utmost importance that they know what to do at all times with the information in front of them. Yes, it’s always an option for them to ask around first before taking any action regarding data disposal, but that can effectively bog down company operations.

To keep things operating smoothly, it would be better if everyone already knew what to do with their data without having to check with anyone else in the company.

Discuss as many topics as possible during the teaching process. Include topics such as the basics of data disposal, to a specific method such as decommissioning data centers, and even other relevant matters, including e-cycling.

Do try to set realistic expectations, though. Mistakes are still likely going to be made on rare occasions. Nevertheless, if the teaching is done well, the errors pertaining to data retention and disposal can be significantly minimized. 

Choose the Appropriate Method of Data Destruction

As noted previously, there is more than one way for individuals and businesses to destroy the data they have, but the abundance of options available does beg an obvious question.

Which data destruction method is best for you or your company’s needs?

Your answer to that question will depend on the amount of data you want to destroy, the kind of data you want to destroy, and the resources you currently have available.

For those who cannot afford to let go of their storage devices due to monetary concerns, the clearing methods of data disposal will likely be the best fit. Those methods may not be as secure as the other options, but they will also not require users to acquire new storage devices.

The purging and destruction methods are better suited to those who are concerned about completely wiping data away above everything else. All traces of sensitive data can be removed if you opt for any of the purging and destruction methods. Just make sure that you have replacement devices ready to handle your immediate data storage needs.

It is important that before you settle on a data disposal method to use, you reflect on these things because its effects are irreversible. Consult with all the relevant people you need to in order to make the right decision. 

Be as Thorough as Possible with Your Data Destruction

Once you have settled on the data elimination method you want to use, the next thing you need to do is to follow through on the process correctly. That means being as thorough as you possibly can be when it comes time to destroy the data.

Being thorough in this scenario requires you to include all copies of data entries that are to be deleted. Scour your databases for the bits of information to be deleted and make sure that there are no copies that are left behind.

It’s also a good idea to check if any physical items are containing the data you want to destroy. Obviously, those need to be addressed during the destruction process too.

Any storage devices that you previously used to hold the data to be destroyed must also be processed. Tech experts may still be able to extract valuable information from them, thus necessitating their proper disposal.

Some of the data you are looking to delete may also exist in the databases of partner companies and vendors that you worked with in the past. Get in touch with them, too, and, if possible, ask them to participate in the data elimination process.

 You can never be too thorough with regards to protecting your privacy and your business. Avoid neglecting an important bit of information that could end up compromising your security later on. 

Keep Track of the Data Destruction Process

Regardless of whether you decided that decommissioning data centers is the way to go or simple erasure is what you need, you cannot overlook the importance of monitoring the process.

Even if you outlined how the process should go, there’s still a chance for miscommunications to take place, thus resulting in important data being left unaddressed. Suddenly, a big hole may open up in your security because something that was supposed to be deleted was instead left exposed to potential attackers.

There may also be times when the destruction process has to be halted for one reason or another. If you weren’t keeping track of its progress, some important items set for destruction might not be processed, and that is unacceptable. You can prevent that problem by keeping tabs on the process as it is being completed. 

Rely on the Pros

Tasks such as decommissioning data centers and degaussing are not simple ones that anyone can learn to do with a bit of research and training. These are highly technical processes that must be handled with the utmost care in order to be executed properly.

Anything less than that and you are risking a potential security breach.

You could very well have people on the payroll who already have experience handling tasks related to data disposal, but that is not true of every company. The good news for those companies who do not have the personnel needed to handle data elimination tasks is that there are businesses to hire that specialize in it.

Handling the data destruction process on your own is an option, but considering how much of your workforce you may need to devote to that task, you can easily argue that paying a third party company would be a wiser use of your available resources.

Plus, bringing a third party company on board means that you can ask for a certificate of destruction. That document will come in handy if you find something problematic about the way the company handled the destruction process. It’s additional protection that is always good to have. CJD E-Cycling offers on-site data destruction or services offered at their secure recycling facility.

Strongly Consider Decommissioning Data Centers if You Have a Larger Company

It’s only natural for some business owners to be hesitant to shut down their currently in-use data centers.

As highlighted by this article from Network World, all kinds of preparations need to be made ahead of decommissioning data centers. It’s also the kind of work that can force a company to spread its workforce too thin if it opts not to bring in a third party business.

On top of that, decommissioning data centers can be highly disruptive to company operations. In highly competitive industries, shutting down your business even just for a little while could wind up being very costly in the long run.

Even given the potential drawbacks that come with decommissioning data centers, it is still a move that companies need to consider if they want to protect themselves seriously. Data centers feature many moving parts, and if even just a few of them fall into the wrong hands, your company could be put into a tight spot.

Ask a third party company to handle the decommissioning to ease the workforce burden on your company.

 Short-term, the decision to move forward with decommissioning data centers can be taxing on your company, but guaranteeing your long-term security is well worth that. 

Don’t Forget about E-Cycling

Since the focus of this article is on destroying data and the devices designed to store all that information, it’s only natural to discuss the matter of waste and the importance of e-cycling. CJD E-Cycling has a handy list of accepted recycling items by group: electronics, metals, construction, and textiles, along with a list of non-accepted items.

For those unfamiliar with the term, e-cycling refers to repurposing old electronic equipment instead of just throwing them away.

Given that some destruction methods involve destroying the storage devices along with the data, e-cycling may not be an option in those scenarios. However, if e-cycling is possible, you should practice it.

Along with helping you save money, participating in e-cycling can also be beneficial in a more meaningful way. E-cycling can cut down on the amount of waste put out into the planet, and that is a huge plus. 

Conclusion

The importance of electronic data in this day and age cannot be overstated. For many companies, the customer data they have can be considered their most valuable assets.

As important as it is for businesses to acquire as much data as possible, it is similarly important for them to dispose of that information properly when they no longer need it. With methods such as erasing data, degaussing, and decommissioning data centers among those ones available, companies have no reason to handle the destruction process poorly.

Properly disposing of data is not just important for maintenance, but to protect individuals and businesses.

If your company has yet to sign up for professional data destruction services, now is the time to change that.

A Guide to Data Destruction and Decommissioning Data Centers

data destruction

The advent of the information age has brought about numerous advancements that have improved human lives significantly.

New products and technologies are coming out left and right and they have forever changed the way people handle different aspects of their daily lives. Everything from the way people communicate to the manner in which they work has been altered in some form or fashion by technological innovations.

There’s no denying that humanity is better off thanks to its many advancements, but bundled together with the benefits are challenges and problems that must be dealt with properly.

In this article, you will be able to learn more about some of the challenges that have emerged due in large part to the dawning of the information age. To be more specific, you’ll be able to understand more about data and how disposing of it can be an ordeal unto itself because of the electronic components involved.

Data destruction and decommissioning data centers are particular topics that will be discussed.

Later on, some solutions to the problems that stem from reliance on electronics will also be presented.

Let’s get started.

What Is Data Destruction?

Deleting data is something you probably do on a regular basis. When your smartphone is running low on space, you likely go into your gallery and see if there are some pictures you can delete. If there’s still not enough space available, you may check out your file library and see if there are podcasts there that you can erase.

At this point, the deleted files will no longer show up on your phone, but they have not been completely wiped away. Backups of the files in question were likely created previously and by following specific steps and/or using certain types of software, it may still be possible to retrieve the deleted files.

The point here is that deleting a file does not mean that it is completely gone for good.

You will need to do something more drastic such as destroying your data. Unlike with simple deletion, destroying your data means that your files will no longer be accessible or readable. They will essentially be wiped away.

Why Is Data Destruction Necessary?

For those wondering why it may be necessary to carry out a process such as data deletion, the main reason is security. 

Some people use their computers to store sensitive financial information or info about their identity. If you’re one of those people, you probably don’t want anyone snooping around your discarded belongings to gain access to those important pieces of information.

Data destruction ensures that all of those bits of personal information will be destroyed along with your computer or even your smartphone.

Companies also make use of data destruction methods often to protect themselves. Corporate espionage is still a concern for many businesses, especially those in highly competitive industries.

By destroying data, companies don’t have to worry about their databases being compromised by some rogue ex-employees.

How Is Data Destruction Carried Out?

There are different methods of data destruction available to individuals and companies and they are:

  • Overwriting data
  • Degaussing
  • Physically destroying data storage units

The first method, overwriting data, works by essentially using up the space previously occupied by old data to hold new bits of information.

White Canyon Software notes that the method is similar to how people could basically create a new VHS tape by recording over the content the tape previously stored back in the day.

Simply overwriting data once should suffice, but in corporate settings, companies may opt to do it more times to ensure that the old data are gone for good.

Degaussing is another method often used for the purposes of destroying data. This method features the use of magnets. The magnets are used to destroy the storage unit housing the targeted data.

Going with this method can effectively ensure that the target data will no longer be readable or accessible, but it also means that the storage unit or hard drive itself will not be used moving forward. If all you want to accomplish is to destroy the data by any means, this method should work for you.

The last way to completely wipe data is to physically destroy the unit housing the bits of information. Various methods can be used to destroy a data storage unit. It’s important to be as thorough as possible to guarantee that the data will no longer be accessible.

Again, there are valid reasons why people or companies may want to destroy their data, but it is important to point out that there are some issues with the methods that are used. Namely, degaussing and physically destroying the storage units can produce electronic waste that will be difficult to dispose of properly on your own.

Why Is Decommissioning Data Centers Important?

Data centers are crucial to the day-to-day operations of many businesses. Bigger companies in particular usually have to work with mountains of data regularly. Understandably, they want to have all that data secured in a protected space and that’s where the data center comes in.

Companies have to create detailed plans regarding their data centers because they must be kept in a controlled and highly secured location. There’s also a constant need on the part of companies to keep their data centers up to date. For all those reasons, companies have to invest heavily in their data centers so that they can continue to be assets that provide useful benefits.

So, why then would companies ever consider decommissioning data centers?

Well, there are actually some good reasons for them to do so, as pointed out by Preferred Power Source.

One reason is that companies can improve their performance by decommissioning their data centers.

There is often a limit placed on how much electronic equipment can be upgraded. As soon as that limit is reached, holding on to and maintaining the pieces of equipment in the data no longer makes sense. They may even actively hold a company’s performance back if they continue to be used.

Running an old data center stocked with outdated equipment and a new one with more modern machinery simultaneously is not a good way of conducting business for any company. For that reason, companies simply opt to cut their losses and shut down the older facility.

Decommissioning data centers also benefit companies from a security standpoint.

When it comes to electronic equipment, items that have become outdated almost immediately become more vulnerable to security breaches. That’s just how things work.

By continuing to rely on those older electronics to house their data, companies are taking a huge risk. Bad actors with more sophisticated tools could enter a company’s database and steal valuable bits of information without ever being detected.

To put it simply, using old equipment in data centers is unwise for companies. Instead of stubbornly continuing to rely on them, the better move is to invest in decommissioning data centers that have become obsolete.

Also, it is absolutely essential for companies to move forward with decommissioning data centers. Refraining from using them any longer is not enough. Those items may still be holding on to data that your company uses. They cannot just be shut down and left alone.

Pieces of data center equipment that are no longer used must be correctly disposed of and the data they’re holding properly destroyed. Otherwise, they can still be points of vulnerability for a company.

Decommissioning data centers also benefit companies because it helps them recoup some of their initial investment. Professionals working on the task of decommissioning will be able to identify equipment that can still be of service to the companies. The companies can then go ahead and continue using them in their upgraded data centers.

It’s often true that decommissioning data centers will not allow companies to get back the majority or even just half of their initial investment, but doing so can still make it possible for them to save some money.

To recap, decommissioning data centers is a good move for companies because:

  • It improves their performance in the long run
  • It enhances security
  • It makes it possible to recoup some of the initial investment

How Is Decommissioning Data Centers Done?

There are several steps involved in the decommissioning process, according to Network World.

Companies can start by hiring professionals to handle the task of decommissioning. After that, the professionals will usually do an inventory of the assets present in the data center and map dependencies.

Conducting inventory is an important step because it enables companies to identify any assets that may still be of use to them. It also lets them know which specific pieces of equipment need to be replaced once the new data center is up and running.

Mapping the dependencies in the older data center can also turn out to be useful as it gives companies a better idea of how to improve upon their previous facility

The process of decommissioning also typically involves removing the contents of the data center and destroying data that companies no longer need. That’s not all however.

Properly recycling the pieces of electronic equipment is also a must and that is easier said than done.

The Importance of E-cycling

Whether a company asks for data to be destroyed or for a data center to be decommissioned, there will likely be electronic waste produced at some point. Just as people are urged to recycle the waste they produce at home, companies and individuals alike are also encouraged to take part in the process of e-cycling when handling their older electronics.

Recycling and e-cycling are basically the same thing, except the latter is focused more on electronic items.

The need for people to recycle their electronic goods has never been more important. Many people may not be aware of this, but the rate at which electronic waste is being generated is already staggering.

Per this article from The Balance Small Business, around 41.8 million tons of electronic waste was produced worldwide in 2014. That’s a big problem for a few reasons.

First off, generating that much waste means that resources are not being utilized properly. By simply failing to recycle cell phones, estimates suggest that Americans get rid of around $60 million worth of silver and gold annually.

Recycling older laptops can also help significantly cut down on energy consumption. Specifically, recycling even just one million laptops could conserve enough energy that can then be used to power up more than 3600 homes in the United States alone.

Failing to recycle electronics in the right way is also having a real impact on the environment. Apart from contributing to the increased amount of hazardous materials in landfills, not recycling electronic goods also leads to increased consumption of natural resources that could have been used in other ways.

Soon enough, health problems may also emerge from the excessive amount of electronic waste being produced.

The amount of electronic waste present in the world can no longer be ignored. The issue of electronic waste must be addressed as soon as possible. You can do your part by making e-cycling a part of your waste disposal routine.

Why E-cycling Is Best Left to the Professionals

Similar to data destruction and decommissioning, e-cycling is something that you will be better off leaving up to the professionals.

They can quickly identify the electronic components that may still be of use to your or your company, thus saving plenty of time and money. Companies that specialize in handling electronic waste may also be able to offer supplemental services such as data destruction that you may end up needing.

On top of all that, entrusting your electronic waste recycling needs to the professionals is also a good move because it saves you from the task of navigating specific laws. According to How Stuff Works, laws governing the disposal of electronic waste can vary from one state to another.

You could get in trouble for breaking the law even if you unwittingly did so. It’s better to err on the side of caution and simply call on the professionals to take care of e-cycling for you or your company. The fees that come from doing so are small prices to pay in exchange for knowing that your electronic waste is being handled responsibly and correctly.

Conclusion

Data destruction, decommissioning data centers, and e-cycling can all be complex tasks, but they are necessary for your security, the health of your finances, and the wellbeing of the planet. It’s understandable if you are hesitant to invest in those practices at first, but they can be immensely beneficial in the long run. Contact CJD with any questions you may have or to learn more about our services.

The Importance of Data Destruction Services

Data destruction services are vital for quite a number of reasons one being the fact that technology changes over time. But how is this even connected to the issue of data destruction? Most companies have tens if not hundreds of hard disks in which they store data. Hard drives that were relevant 10 years ago may not be relevant today. Throwing such hard drives in a dump site is definitely not a good idea because someone may collect them and access the sensitive data contained therein. The same applies to stockpiling them in a room somewhere. Read more