Data is one of the most important assets that an organization can ever have and keep. That is why it needs to be kept safe and secure during its entire life span. However, the relevance of data is not eternal and hence there comes the right time when it has to be gotten rid of. Just as security is important in the lifespan of the data, security is also equally important in the “death” of the same data and hence the manner in which the data is destroyed has to be secure to avoid any accidental or malicious leaking of any sensitive data in to the wrong hands.
But what exactly does secure data destruction entails and how can it be measured? Does it mean that some data destruction methods are more secure than others? The answer is that the security of a data destruction method is dependent on the particular situation that it is applied in. This means that a method that may be effective or secure in a particular situation may not achieve the same results in another and hence in that new situation it will be considered insecure. That is why this article seeks to bring to light some of these methods and their effectiveness in their relevant situations of application.
Paper, in most cases, is the primary media of capturing information and also conveying it. In as much as we have gone high-tech, we still have relevant and sensitive information being captured on paper. That is why it is important to start off the journey at this point. There are four different ways by which paper information can be destroyed.
The first way of destroying paper information is through shredding, which is applicable when the nature of information is not very sensitive. Another means of destroying paper information is incineration or simply setting the paper ablaze. The third means of destroying paper information is through pulverization, where the paper is crushed to powder. The last means is through maceration, which is the use of corrosive chemicals to turn the paper into pulp. The last three means are applicable in situations where the nature of the information is very sensitive.
Physical destruction of magnetic media
This is a method that is applicable in situations where the information is not very sensitive. This entails the breaking of data storage media such as hard drives, flash disks and many others. However, there are very high chances that with better technology and some kind of tech genius, data can still be recovered from such storage devices.
Demagnetizing storage media
This is another method of destroying data. Media such as floppies, tape reels, and cartridges can be demagnetized to render the data inside unreadable. This method however is best applicable where the device has no or very little resale value or you are not intending to use it again or else you should try over writing it.
Over writing media
Storage media such as USB flash drives, memory sticks and smart media can be over written to delete the previous data that they were holding. This can be achieved either by a simple over writing method or by use of some special over writing software to achieve more security through multiple over write layers.