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Guide to Establishing Your Company's Data Destruction Policy

Whispers of data breaches or leaks can raise the anxiety of most corporate executives because of the financial and legal consequences involved. Having an established data destruction policy for your business is crucial considering how technology advancements have led to an increase in malicious cyber actors. 

According to a recent IBM report on the global data breach involving 17 industries in 17 countries and regions, the estimated average cost of a data breach is $4.24 million. The average cost stands at $9.05 million in the United States alone — the most expensive by far. The takeaway is that leniency with handling your company data will cost you more than it takes to prevent sensitive information from getting into malicious hackers' hands.

Fortunately, establishing an efficient data destruction policy is one of the cheapest and most effective approaches to protecting your business from being compromised. You may be asking, What is a data destruction policy and how does it help protect a company's data? Our guide answers these questions and discusses other topics you may wish to know about to keep your company’s data safe. 

What is data destruction?

Data destruction encompasses all measures a company employs to eliminate sensitive data on digital storage devices. The storage devices may be phones, hard disk drives, copiers, laptops, solid-state drives (SSD), tapes, and other electronic equipment that can store data. For firms, data destruction goes beyond simply deleting files and folders. 

When you delete a file or folder, you only remove the path leading to its location on the storage device. Although you can’t easily access the files without specialized software, your deleted files remain on your drives until new files overwrite them. A more digitally informed individual can quickly recover and misuse information about your business, clients, and employees.

Therefore, data destruction must be exhaustive to prevent recovery of any form. To guarantee permanency, companies usually employ a variety of advanced destruction techniques like degaussing, data wiping, overwriting, shredding, and physical destruction of storage media.

For clarity, data destruction differs from data sanitization. While both procedures involve the proper disposal of sensitive data, data sanitization tries to prioritize the reuse of the data storage device. Magnetic media storage devices favor data sanitization to prevent data retention while keeping the storage device good enough to be reused. 

Data destruction laws 

Data destruction policies and execution are informed, closely monitored, and enforced by law for every company in the United States. For instance, the incineration of hard drives follows guidelines provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

In fact, the destruction procedure for most American industries follows the media sanitization standards set by the Department of Defense. Companies need to be aware of the following acts to stay within the legal framework.

Additionally, states have laws governing data destruction. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Act and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA) Act are more recent laws that protect people's PII businesses and organizations.

What is a data destruction policy?

Advancement in information technology has significantly impacted how businesses operate. Companies, therefore, need to establish adequate security policies or procedures for handling clients' personally identifiable information (PII). 

A data destruction policy is a protocol a company establishes to wholly and securely remove data from its storage devices. The idea is to prevent misuse or unauthorized access to private information due to inefficient deletion. An efficient policy guards against data retention of any form and guarantees sanitization, erasure, or complete disposal of confidential data. 

What types of data need to be destroyed? 

Companies must destroy the following items to protect clients' data, according to existing data destruction laws:

Reasons your company needs a data destruction policy

Adopting a proactive approach to protecting client and employee data through efficient data destruction benefits a firm in many ways.

Firstly, a comprehensive data destruction policy protects your company from data breaches and unauthorized access to company information. The structural framework provides a pattern that guides the destruction of different data types from different devices, making the process effortless and thorough.

Additionally, a data destruction policy improves your clients' trust in you. It gives them peace of mind in transacting with you — removing hesitations and objections in your sales process. 

Furthermore, creating a policy to address data destruction protects your company from negligently breaching local or federal laws. 

The essential components of a data destruction policy

Every data destruction policy must begin with a comprehensive structure that defines roles and responsibilities. The data destruction policy should be structured to reflect the needs and circumstances of your company. Let’s review some of the essential components to include in your policy.

Statement of policy 

It'd be best to start data destruction by introducing your policy or policy statement, the policy number, and the title. 

Your policy statement should include:


Next, your data destruction policy should address why the company needs to create one. The purpose should clarify the background, importance, and consequences associated with data destruction. It would be best if you also tried to enumerate the benefits of policies to the different stakeholders.


The scope should detail the extent and limits of the policy. It helps define which departments or activities will be affected and how you hope the policy will shape the company. It would be best if you also addressed departments, employees, and operations to be affected by the policy, including their roles and responsibilities and the considerations made for them.

Procedure statements 

The procedural statement should give specific details of the protocols to implement in the data destruction process. 

It should include the following:


It is not enough to create and communicate your data destruction policy. You have to include an accountability protocol to ensure that the policy is strictly followed. The policy enforcement should start with a review and update policy.

You should include a proper definition for measuring the results of the policy. In addition, consequences for noncompliance to the policy should be clearly stated, alongside a monitoring and evaluation system.

Ensure your company data is safe with Phonecheck

A data destruction policy protects your company data against unauthorized access or breach by malicious actors. This makes for a positive brand image and trust among clients. However, most companies don't know how to destroy data effectively. That's where Phonecheck comes in.

You can avoid costly hidden problems by purchasing a history report on Phonecheck for about the cost of a cup of coffee. Our industry-standard enterprise software guarantees that sensitive company data is wiped before sale or disposal from various storage devices. You can then confidently conduct your business knowing that your sensitive information is safe.

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