Summary: This article will provide an in-depth understanding of data erasure, its growing need, and how data erasure today has become important for staying compliant with data privacy laws. You will also gather insight into its three-fold role in an organization, how it can help you combat data breaches and the optimum data erasure solution for your organization.
IDC predicts that by 2025, the global data sphere will grow to 221 Zettabytes at an annual CAGR of 21.2%. With growing data, the risk of data theft and vulnerability is also on the rise. It is reported that 68 records are lost or stolen each second. That means, as an organization, data security is of utmost importance and cannot be overlooked at any stage of data handling. If data security is not taken care of, the repercussions can be heavy, both in terms of legal and financial costs, as well as tarnishing of brand image. To avoid such a situation, you need to ensure your storage devices don't become potential points for data leaks during their lifecycle when they change hands or reach the end of their life. Many accidental data leaks happen when users feel they have 'deleted' all sensitive data, but the data remains recoverable via technical and forensic methods. Data erasure is the most secure data sanitization technique that can be used not just to safeguard data from theft but also to stay compliant with data privacy norms.
What is Data Erasure?
Data erasure is a software-based method of permanently erasing sensitive, confidential data on a device to make it irrecoverable while ensuring that the device is still reusable. Data erasure is employed when data is no longer needed, when storage devices are being repurposed, recycled, or discarded, or when there is a compliance requirement with data protection regulations. Data erasure or wiping ensures that unauthorized individuals cannot access sensitive or personal information, protecting data privacy, preventing data breaches, and reducing the risk of identity theft or other forms of data misuse. Unlike other measures of data sanitization, it doesn't lead to device destruction and thus is environmentally friendly. It also reduces the cost burden of device replacement. Data erasure, aka overwriting, involves overwriting sensitive data with a series of 0s and 1s (or pseudo-random digits), making it unreadable and irrecoverable.
Choosing the best data erasure method for any storage drive depends on factors such as the type of storage media (hard drives, solid-state drives, NVMe, mobile devices, tapes, etc.), the level of security required, and compliance requirements. Organizations often follow globally recognized data sanitization standards and guidelines, such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) or R2V3 core requirements as defined by SERI (Sustainable Electronics Recycling International), to ensure proper data erasure procedures are followed. Based on different storage media devices, the overwriting process varies in terms of the patterns and number of passes used. The erasure method simultaneously verifies if the erasure is successful or not and is based on device type. For example, the DoD 5220.22-M standard uses three passes of 0s, 1s, and random characters for data erasure with 100% verification.
What is the Need for Data Erasure?
Organizations need data erasure to safeguard the privacy & confidentiality of the business data, prevent data leakages, and comply with the regulatory standards, especially when they are reallocating, reselling, or putting devices to rest. Traditional data deletion methods like deleting files and formatting devices are un-secure ways as they leave the data recoverable by DIY software and forensic methods. A software-based data erasure solution is advisable and is needed for:
1. Secure Data Destruction: It is the best method to securely wipe data from your device, as no technical or forensic method can be used to recover the data post-erasure. Data Erasure using software like BitRaser ensures that your data is 100% removed from the storage device, leaving no trace behind. This helps prevent unauthorized access to personal or official data and reduces the risk of identity theft, fraud, or other privacy violations.
2. Preventing Data Leakage: While device destruction might seem easy, sometimes it can lead to unauthorized data access or spillage. The use of a data erasure solution ensures that this never happens. Proper data erasure minimizes the risk of data leaks by ensuring that data cannot be recovered or accessed after it is no longer needed.
3. Compliance with Data Protection Regulations: Many countries have data protection laws and regulations that mandate the secure erasure of personal information (PII). Examples include the EU-GDPR, the New York Senate Law, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and many others. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in legal consequences, financial penalties, and reputational damage for organizations. Data erasure software generates proof of destruction and ensures compliance with these requirements.
4. Preventing Data Breach Penalties: In the unfortunate situation of data leaks and breaches, you are liable to suffer penalties while your brand reputation also takes a nosedive. Permanent and irretrievable data erasure prevents such episodes.
5. Responsible IT Asset Disposition: When electronic devices reach the end of their lifecycle (EOL), proper data erasure is crucial before disposal or recycling. Data erasure is an eco-friendly solution that allows reusing old devices and reduces e-waste. Thus, data erasure is a good step toward responsible recycling and reuse, promoting a circular economy.
How Does Data Erasure Help You Stay Compliant With Data Privacy Laws?
According to Security Boulevard, 57% of people blame companies - and not hackers - if their data is stolen or compromised. So, ensuring proper data sanitization using proven data eraser software is important for avoiding loss of customer trust and public backlash. But that's not all. You must also ensure compliance with national and international data protection and privacy regulations. To stay compliant, organizations need to produce documented evidence of every wiping performed in the form of certificates and reports of destruction to testify that every storage device/drive was securely wiped and free from exposure to any vulnerability.
Data erasure using trusted software can help you attain compliance with data privacy laws like GDPR, California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA), Colorado Privacy Act (CPA), Utah Consumer Privacy Act (UCPA), and the like. It also helps to stay compliant with the Sarbanes–Oxley Act, GLB Act, HIPAA, ISO 27001, ISO 27040, PCI DSS, etc.
The Three-fold Role of Data Erasure
Data erasure is not just a legal or moral obligation. Data erasure's role for businesses can be broken down into three parts. For one, obviously, data erasure helps ensure data security for your invaluable data. The global average cost of a data breach is reported as $4.24 million. Secure and permanent data erasure guarantees that sensitive data is wiped beyond recovery, and you stay safe from data breaches. By thoroughly erasing data, organizations can reduce the risk of unintentional exposure and protect the privacy of confidential data.
Secondly, secure data erasure helps in ensuring data protection at the cleansing stage of the data remediation process. You can learn more about the role of data erasure in data remediation in our previous blog.
And lastly, when data reaches the end of its usage lifecycle, data erasure helps ensure globally compliant, eco-friendly, and effective data sanitization. By ensuring proper data erasure, organizations can demonstrate compliance with legal requirements, industry standards, and data protection frameworks. Read in detail about the importance of data erasure for data lifecycle management.
The Ideal Data Eraser Software For Your Organization
Data erasure can help organizations reduce their cost of device ownership, promote data security, drive compliance, and ensure data privacy. Professional data eraser software like BitRaser offers organizations all the benefits of secure data erasure for drives and mobile devices with an added advantage. How?
- BitRaser offers an offsite, on-site, and remote data-wiping solution that works on all devices. There are multiple variants, each suiting different customer needs. Read our article to learn more about BitRaser variants.
- BitRaser is a NIST-tested and Common Criteria-certified data wiping software, and it ensures secure and permanent data destruction from a wide range of storage media.
- It automatically generates and stores tamper-proof reports and certificates on a secure cloud repository, which can come in handy during audits and compliance checks. You can see sample reports and certificates on our reports & certificates page.
- The software offers an automated and customizable erasure process through ISO customization to save businesses time and cost.
- It offers a single cloud console dashboard for erasure reports of drive, mobile, and file erasure performed by the organization and allows easy retrieval of previous records.
- BitRaser offers a single license type for hard drives and SSDs, which do not expire until consumed. BitRaser follows a pay-per-use model that is easy on your pocket.
Data erasure is one of the most reliable, effective, and compliant methods of keeping your data secure when it is not needed. It is helpful when sensitive data-bearing devices are to be reused by someone else or discarded. It is secure, eco-friendly, legally compliant, and permanent, and leaves the data irrecoverable by all means. As data privacy norms become widespread and stringent, the need for data erasure will only increase, and your organization can take the lead by integrating a data eraser solution in your data lifecycle management. Reach out to us to know more.