Summary: Globally many organizations face significant data handling challenges, related to IT Security. With data growth arises secure data management and disposal issues. To safeguard sensitive information, secure data destruction is crucial, but most organizations struggle due to a lack of understanding, policies, and employee enablement. Discover 10 data erasure best practices in this blog that empower organizations to dodge impending data disasters & protect their reputation.
In today’s high-stakes contemporary business environment relying on Artificial intelligence, data is not only a precious asset; it is at the forefront of organizational vision. It is indeed the key element that supports business operations and helps them thrive. Data is the vital fuel on which organizations rely heavily and it is important to strike the right balance with it. Often organizations are unaware of the dark data and ROT (Redundant, Obsolete, Trivial) data that gets accumulated within their IT assets and its existence is particularly daunting to business. When this data is not sanitized and monitored properly, it results in data breaches, data leakage, and unauthorized access by hackers. In order to safeguard themselves against these risks, organizations must formulate policies and implement data erasure best practices. Let’s look at the 10 vital data erasure best practices every business must implement to ensure permanent and secure removal of sensitive information.
Data Erasure Best Practices for Businesses to Safeguard Privacy:
Laws and Regulations like EU-GDPR, CCPA, PIPEDA, or India’s DPDP Act strictly mention that both private and public sector organizations must adhere to secure data erasure practices for wiping sensitive and confidential information. Even ISO 27001 and ISO 27040 in their guidelines stress upon secure data erasure by businesses after the data retention period is over. Discover the below list of data erasure best practices that businesses should embrace to keep up with the stringent regulations.
- Develop a Data Retention & Destruction Policy: Ideally, the first step for any business is to strategize and enforce a data retention policy that highlights the duration for retaining required data and strictly mentions the period after which it should be securely erased. A well-defined data erasure policy is the foundation for effective and secure data management. You can read our knowledge series on how to draft a data destruction policy.
- Create an Inventory Of Data Bearing Devices: The enterprise must map and gain visibility into the data-bearing devices across locations. Before implementing data erasure procedures, it is essential to know what data your organization possesses and where it is residing. IT Managers must create a detailed inventory list of all IT assets, including both physical and digital records. This inventory list will help ensure that none of the devices is left out for wiping data after the retention period is over, minimizing data vulnerability chances.
- Determine Erasure Process: Organizations must decide whether they want to deploy an onsite or offsite data erasure process. If businesses need a high level of control, they can opt for on-site erasure where they can closely monitor the process within their premises. In onsite erasure, the data leakage threat is almost negligible. However, if businesses are interested in outsourcing the data erasure process to a third-party vendor for performing data wiping, then they must validate their certification, audit their facility, and verify credibility in performing data erasure.
- Use Certified Data Erasure Software: From a large organization to a small enterprise, it is recommended that businesses use professional data erasure software certified by global bodies like BitRaser, Wipe drive, Kill Disk, etc. to ensure complete and secure data removal from HDDs and SSDs in desktops, laptops, servers as well as mobile devices. Whether erasure is performed onsite or offsite, professional data-wiping software should be used. The global software certifications help to instill trust in the software’s efficacy in performing complete data wiping using international algorithms.
- Follow Secure Data Wiping Methods: The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) mentions using secure erasure methods, such as overwriting data multiple times with random patterns, block erase, and cryptographic erase techniques to destroy obsolete data and render it unrecoverable. Likewise, IEEE standard 2883-2022 mentions 3 methods for sanitization of data-bearing devices namely Clear, Purge, and Destruct. Organizations must use globally recognized data erasure standards and algorithms to erase data effectively.
- Provide Data Erasure Training to Employees: Train employees on the importance of data erasure and lay out a clear framework for them to abide by in order to handle sensitive data and maintain a uniform audit trail. By empowering employees with knowledge, businesses can prevent the potential nightmare of data breaches caused by a lack of awareness.
- Verify and Document Erasure Process: After performing data erasure, your business must be able to verify it with the help of tamper-proof erasure reports. Verifying data erasure is a crucial component of meeting compliance, regulatory, and legal auditing requirements. It displays the effectiveness of the organization’s data erasure process. Additionally, businesses must store detailed records of the data erasure process, including the date, time, method used, and the responsible personnel to avoid non-compliance penalties. You can also avail data-erasure verification services from a data recovery company for random verification of erased devices.
- Conduct Regular Audits: Perform frequent audits as a proactive approach to ensure that data erasure processes are being adhered to well. The goal is to reduce the risks associated with data breaches, compliance violations, and prevent unauthorized tampering with sensitive business data. According to Apple’s The Rising Threat to Consumer Data in the Cloud report, “There were 5,212 confirmed breaches in 2021, which exposed 1.1 billion personal records across the globe” (pg. 5).
- Regularly Update Erasure Policies: Relook your data-erasure policies timely to keep them up-to-date with evolving technology and regulatory changes.
- Monitor Legal Requirements and Appoint a DPO: Stay informed about data protection laws and regulations in your jurisdiction and ensure compliance with data erasure requirements. The data privacy regulations also stress upon employing a data protection officer who can closely monitor the collection and processing of data enterprise-wide. Remaining unaware and failing to adhere to the new laws and regulations can lead your organization to pay punitive penalties.
In the fast-paced data-centric business environment, data attacks are only expected to increase for competitive or financial gains. Data erasure can be established as a protective stance to avoid data privacy and security compromises. By implementing the aforementioned data erasure best practices businesses can safeguard their reputation and data integrity and simplify their data management strategy.
What does data erasure mean?
Data erasure is a software-based technique to wipe critical business and personal information from drives and devices permanently ensuring that the data is irrecoverable. Once the stored data turns obsolete, data erasure is performed to remove the unwanted data from IT assets and comply with data protection regulations.
What is the importance of data erasure?
Data erasure is a protective stance to avoid data privacy and security compromises under various local, state, and federal data protection and privacy laws. It helps prevent data leakages, prevents data breach penalties, and promotes responsible IT asset disposition.
Which is the best data erasure practice?
Using a certified professional Data Erasure Software like BitRaser helps ensure complete and secure data removal from HDDs and SSDs in desktops, laptops, servers as well and mobile devices is considered the best data erasure practice. The globally certified software helps instill trust in its efficacy for performing permanent data wiping.
Is data erasure the same as data deletion?
No, both data erasure and data deletion are fundamentally different. Deleted data can be recovered using a DIY data recovery tool or manual/lab techniques. Whereas erased data cannot be retrieved by any means.