Fact 1: Organizations store data digitally.
Fact 2: All digital data is at risk of cybersecurity breaches.
If some data is not required anymore, destroy it. If your organization doesn’t already have a data destruction strategy in place, then plan one. In this article, we’ll lay down the 5 key necessities of an effective data destruction strategy. We will discuss the following best practices for data destruction.
- Setting the goals of your data destruction strategy
- Forming a policy of safe destruction
- Learning the technical skills for data destruction
- Forming an operating procedure
- Making your data destruction strategy auditable
The Five Pillars of a Data Destruction Strategy
Determine the Goals of Data Destruction
a. Extent of Removal
It’s not hard to recover deleted data. Complete data destruction entails that your data is irrecoverable. It should also verify that it is irrecoverable. This is called data sanitization.
b. Meeting The Data Privacy Rules
The IS 17428 is the data privacy standard that businesses in India must meet. Under this law, businesses must employ methods like encryption and data destruction to safeguard both personal and user data.
c. Hardware Management Tactics
Once you’ve wiped a piece of hardware, it is both cost-effective and environmentally friendly to reuse it. If you’ve used physical destruction methods, then you should recycle the hardware.
Draft a Formal Data Destruction Policy
The purpose of this policy is to prevent unauthorized disclosure of information and protect your business from privacy breaches. Your policy should cover the following sections.
- Define the objectives, methods employed, and perceived outcome of destroying data.
- Determine the employee(s) responsible for handling data. If the hardware will move out of your headquarters for destruction, decide how you’ll ensure no threats occur in transit.
- Determine the methods that your employee will follow to ascertain the complete destruction of data.
- Determine what happens to the hardware post-data destruction.
- Outline how often data systems are audited and when systems are updated.
- Define the organization’s internal roles (CIO, CISO) who are responsible for data security.
Back Your Policy With Technical Capabilities
Every method of data destruction has its risks. The method you choose should depend on the sensitivity of the data you’re handling and the type of drive you’re trying to destroy. But you should be prepared to use any of the methods when needed. So, ensure your data protection team can do the following.
a. Physical Destruction
This is an expensive data destruction method since hardware cannot be reused. Ways to physically destroy data include melting and shredding.
This is a physical destruction method that uses a high-powered magnet to disrupt the magnetic field of your magnetic storage device. This renders the drive useless and hence creates a lot of e-waste. Also, SSDs can't be degaussed.
Know about our hard disk degassuing service.
A pattern of ones and zeros is written over the existing data. Sometimes, this is done more than once. This ensures that the original data can't be recovered.
The encryption keys of encrypted data are overwritten. This makes the data unreadable.
e. Secure Data Erasure
The first two methods render your device unusable. The last two don’t ascertain that your data is safely destroyed. That’s why using certified data erasure software is in your company’s best interest.
The software generates an erasure report that becomes useful for audits. So you can prove anytime in the future that data is deleted securely. The certified software meets both national and international compliance standards. It guarantees 100% deletion of data and generate tamper proof report for audit trail purpose.
If your company has any sustainability policies in effect, you would want to minimize the physical destruction of the hardware. With secure certified data erasure software, you won’t have to. The software will not tamper with the functionality of the drive.
Define the Standard Operating Procedure
a. Review the Drives
Identify which drives need data destruction. You don’t want to accidentally destroy data from a drive that’s in use.
b. Obtain the right tools
Complete data destruction uses methods like overwriting or reformatting. Obtain tools that facilitate the safe destruction of your data. Ensure the tool is updated to meet the compliance standards.
c. Document your work
You should keep track of which hardware you’ve destroyed and what kind of information was on it. This is for the sole purpose of maintaining records.
Ensure Your Data Destruction Practices are Auditable
Here are some ways to ensure your destruction strategy is auditable.
- Maintain inventory of all the storage media you’ve destroyed and those scheduled for destruction.
- Generate data destruction certificates for each drive you destroy.
- Use software that generates an evidential video of the data destruction process. The video should contain a date and time stamp of the destruction process.
- Maintain full reports of all the data destruction methods used for a particular drive.
- Maintain records of every person who handles the drive during the destruction process. You should also track the location of where the drive moves through your headquarters or in a secondary location.
Points to Remember When Forming A Data Destruction Strategy
- In case you’re using a third-party service for data destruction, draw up an effective contract.
- Determine what will happen to drives after the data is destroyed.
- Ensure the personnel assigned to the data destruction task has the technical capability.
- Every data destruction method has some level of vulnerability. Choose the destruction method having the least threats for the type of storage media/data you’re handling.
- Wipe personal data from the drive before recycling it.
The Pressing Need For A Data Destruction Strategy
According to a report by Surfshark India 86.6 million Indian users were victims of data theft in 2021. The sole reason? Mismanagement of data by big companies including Domino’s India and Air India.
It is a user’s right to demand that their data remain safe. And it’s the company’s responsibility to guarantee that to their users. Having a solid data destruction strategy is one of the ways to ensure data security.
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