Wiping the hard drive or any other storage media refers to destroying the data beyond the scope of recovery to prevent data theft. Disposing of or selling the hard drive without securely erasing the data is similar to giving away your confidential and private data to a stranger or possibly to a data thief. Your data is an asset which if stolen can be misused for vested interest. Therefore wiping the hard drive before selling or disposing of is a must.
Importance of Data Wiping
Storage media like hard drive store your sensitive, confidential, personal and private data. You may haven’t noticed that the applications running on your computer also store your sensitive data in addition to what you actually save on your computer. For instance, while you browse the internet, the browser stores the saved passwords, saved credit/debit card details, browsing the history, cookies, autofill form data, and the other internet activities on the hard drive.
Even if you delete or format the entire hard drive, the data still exists on it, and anyone who gets physical access to your hard drive can easily recover your data by using a data recovery software.
Thus, disposing of the hard drive without wiping exposes you greatly to the risk of data theft. If you become a victim of data theft due to this exposure, you or your business would be hugely impacted.
Stats reveal that individuals and businesses who had suffered data breaches had to pay the price. The average cost of a data breach in the U.S. is USD 3.92 million as per the 2019 Cost of Data Breach Report by the Ponemon Institute. This study shows the extent of financial loss—hefty fine, compensation, fraud financial transactions due to identity theft, and so on—you might suffer in case of the data breach.
In addition to it, if you run a business, you might face legal actions against you for not being able to comply with data privacy laws like GDPR. Exposure of business secrets, loss of trust and reputation in the market, and a hindrance to business operations are some of the other impacts of data theft.
Despite the devastating impacts of data theft on individuals and businesses, most of us dispose of the storage devices without wiping the data from them. This is proven by a case study recently conducted by Stellar® in the year 2019, which investigated a very large sample of 311 used devices to find that 7 out of 10 devices contained residual data such as PII, personal data, banking information, income tax records, and login credentials, etc.
The facts and figures clearly indicate the importance of wiping the hard drive or storage media before selling or shredding it. As already discussed, deleting the data or formatting the hard drive aren’t the options to destroy data before disposing of your hard drive.
Two ways to securely wipe the data
Securely erase your hard drive by using secure data eraser software such as BitRaser® to destroy your data before selling or shredding it. The software is compliant with International data erasure standards such as NIST, US DOD 5220.22-M (7 passes), etc. and wipes data by overwriting it with random binary values.
After wiping the data, it generates an audit-trail or data erasure report and a certificate of erasure. The report contains all the required details about erasure and the certificate guarantees 100% destruction of data beyond the scope of recovery.
A sample data erasure report and certificate of erasure are shown below:
These documents are digitally signed and can be used as proof of secure data destruction.
The other option to wipe the hard drive or SSD is to get the help of a Professional Data Erasure Service provider. They have a well-equipped Class 100 cleanroom lab where they can secure erase or wipe your hard drive so that you can sell it off without the fear of data theft.
Disk degaussing or SSD dismantling and destruction include the services provided by them. These services ensure a secure erasure of data with toxic e-waste management.
Theft of your data might result in huge financial loss. And particularly to businesses, the aftereffects are abysmal—financial loss, loss of trust and reputation, legal actions, and operational hindrances.
Deleting the data or formatting the storage media deletes only the path of the files, not the actual data, which can be recovered easily by using data recovery software. To destroy the data beyond the scope of recovery, use a secure data erasure software like BitRaser® or consult a Professional Data Erasure Service provider for wiping the storage media such as hard drive, hybrid HDD, flash drives, SD card, SSD, etc.