The information age has brought unprecedented growth and an exponential rate of development.
Communication and commerce have been made so easy that we take them for granted. Companies can generate business with minimal cost while reaching a wider pool of customers. And data is at the heart of all of these advances.
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, about 90% of all existing data was created within the last five years. Statista projected global data creation to exceed 180 zettabytes by 2025.
Holding onto so much data can be challenging for a company from both economic and security perspectives. It makes sense to erase or destroy some data once in a while. However, sensitive data requires extreme care, especially during disposal so you don’t risk a data breach or exposure liability.
Nevertheless, most companies have successfully and securely disposed of their data by employing data destruction services. What are data destruction services, and why are they necessary? This article answers these questions and details all you need to know about data destruction services.
Data destruction involves completely erasing data stored on a storage media device to the point that it is both unreadable and unrecoverable regardless of the method used. Data destruction ranges from paper shredding to hard drive encryption.
A simple deletion does very little in keeping your files and documents protected from unauthorized access when you no longer have use for them.
Deleting data on your storage device only erases the operating system’s path to access. The files will still exist on the device, waiting to be written over. This might not be much of a worry for the average user; however, the data can easily be recovered with some computer skills and cheap software.
Destroying data requires more proactive approaches when your daily operation involves handling sensitive information like employee and client personally identifiable information (PII), which you’re legally responsible for securing. There’s also the risk of security breaches. Corporate and competitive data can leave your business vulnerable when accessed by malicious parties.
Therefore, data destruction must go beyond simple deletion. The data destruction process uses exhaustive methods that ensure company files are no longer recoverable or readable, and it is permanent.
Data destruction encompasses advanced destruction methods like degaussing, data wiping, overwriting, shredding, and physical destruction of your storage media. These methods prevent data retention on electronic media, including cell phones, hard drives, copiers, laptops, solid-state drives (SSD), tapes, drives, and other electronic storage devices.
Data sanitization and destruction are often used interchangeably. True, both processes involve secure and thorough data erasure of your storage devices. However, a slight difference still exists between the two.
Unlike data destruction, data sanitization goes a step further above using thorough methods for complete data wiping. It involves certification and guarantees that the data is gone. After the destruction process, an investigative procedure is carried out to certify that all files are unrecoverable.
Therefore most data sanitization processes involve a complete overwrite of the storage media used. A sanitized data storage device can be reused or sold without fear of breaches. The particulars of the sanitization process are documented (including the serial numbers and the chain of custody), and a certificate of destruction is issued to you.
The DoD 5220.22-M remains one of the industry standards for data sanitization in the United States.
Data destruction encompasses a lot of different approaches, one of which is the physical destruction of the storage device itself.
In physical destruction, you destroy the storage media in a way that cannot be reused or sold. When you reduce storage media (like a hard drive) to shreds, it becomes nearly impossible to access the stored data. However, fragmented pieces can still hold data, making the approach unreliable for data destruction. Physical destruction is often adopted as the last stage of data destruction after degaussing and wiping.
Data destruction mostly starts with electronic erasure (degaussing, data wiping, etc.) and ends with physical destruction of the storage media. On-site and off-site shredding of the electronic media also falls under this category. Although you can choose to execute physical destruction directly, it’s always safer to electronically erase the data first. However, data sanitization is still the best approach, as it encompasses validation after erasure.
For instance, using software-based processes that encrypt and overwrite your data leaves room for confirmation during the sanitization process. It also leaves your storage media whole for reuse or sale.
Data destruction services help you securely erase your company data when you no longer need the data or the storage device. Either way, compliance with government regulation requires companies to prevent the exposure of sensitive information in their care, which is where data destruction services come in handy.
Data destruction services certify compliance while helping you protect your data and security from unauthorized access. They offer secure data destruction services and manage your IT assets disposition (ITAD).
Shredding IT assets is the most popular data destruction service because of its affordability. Data destruction is beneficial when you want to sell used devices, especially old company phones containing information that can leave your company vulnerable. Hard drive destruction services can collect your hard drives to be sanitized off-site or on-site in shred trucks within your premises.
You can also avoid costly hidden problems when listing company phones for sale by purchasing a history report on phonecheck.com for about the cost of a cup of coffee. Phonecheck also offers complete data erasure to keep your business or personal information secure.
Data destruction offers your company various benefits. Below are some reasons investing in a comprehensive data destruction service might make sense.
Many hackers would be glad to access your company data. Fraudsters and competitors are a few examples of groups who may want to get ahold of your files and documents. When you casually delete files before listing company phones for sale or in an open market, your company’s sensitive information may be left exposed to malicious actors.
Financial records, business plans, employee records, marketing strategies, client records, and more are sensitive and must be properly destroyed when they are no longer needed.
Data destruction ensures this sensitive data remains protected and eliminates all possibilities of it getting into unauthorized hands.
Business ideas and assets aside, you are also legally responsible for securely handling private records in your care. Employee and client files and documents, especially those under the Personally Identifiable Information (PII) category (e.g., financial records, medical history, etc.), are protected and enforced under several U.S. laws.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996, for example, protects patient records from being exposed. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act offers the same protection for financial records. At the same time, the Fair and Accurate Credits Transaction Acts (FACTA) limits and monitors how you use consumer information, including its disposal.
These acts hold companies responsible for breaching confidential information even when it’s done unintentionally — leaving you exposed to heavy fines and sanctions.
In this regard, the National Institute for Standards and Technology established the NIST 800-88 standards to guide businesses in properly sanitizing their data.
Investing in an efficient data destruction service communicates to your customers that you take their privacy seriously. It builds trust for your brand and gives you an edge where your competitors take their data disposal lightly.
You also contribute to the revitalization of the environment by reusing or selling sanitized devices. Data destruction helps you prolong the lifespan of devices that would have ended up in landfills as e-waste.
All data destruction methods fall under three categories: clearing, purging, and destroying.
Clearing focuses on preventing your data from being recovered. It employs overwriting or copying a new layer of redundant data to replace the ones you have deleted. The overwriting process is done multiple times to ensure the total erasure of original data.
The clearing approach is often preferred for destroying files on electronic media that use flash storage, including phones, flash drives, and SSD. Clearing also leaves the device in good enough shape to be reused or sold.
On the other hand, purging will frequently leave the original storage media unreliable, impacting its market pricing. It includes degaussing, which uses a magnetic field to erase data stored on a hard drive. Cryptographic encryption also falls under purging. The goal remains to ensure your data is unreadable and unrecoverable.
Destroying refers to using physical processes to ensure that the storage device (and, by extension, the data on it) is rendered physically unreadable. The media device will be unusable after undergoing physical destruction. Destroying includes methods like hard drive shredding and incineration.
Efficient data destruction services can help you protect sensitive company information by rendering erased data on company storage devices unrecoverable. In addition, it ensures that you’re on the right side of the law. However, most companies don’t understand the stipulated guidelines for data destruction — or how to carry out effective erasure of company data.
That’s where Phonecheck comes in. We use certified, industry-standard mobile device data erasure to sanitize your data beyond the scope of recovery — while keeping your devices in great shape for resale. We believe that you should be able to wipe your devices with comfort, speed, and a guarantee of complete data erasure. Phonecheck is certified under the National Association of Information Destruction (NAID) AAA program and the Asset Disposal and Information Security Alliance (ADISA).