about what data erasure is and what it is not? Read on to get a clear
understanding of data erasure and the various myths associated with it. The EU
General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), CCPA – California Consumer Privacy
Act, Senate Law in New York and similar laws in different countries have
devised strict norms for user data protection. These regulations have laid down
the mandates for secure and compliant handling of user data, including customer
data in organizations’ custody.
Failure to comply with these data protection laws can lead to
substantial financial penalties, legal action, and even imprisonment. Also,
there is a default risk of brand damage and customer loss. Technology giants like
Facebook and Google have already paid massive fines for data breaches under
these new data protection laws.
Given this need for secure and compliant handling of user
data across its lifecycle, various data destruction practices have emerged at
an industrial level. Data destruction means permanent desensitization of the
information to make it unreadable (illegible) to any method. The purpose of
data destruction is to avoid its leakage or exposure for protecting the privacy
of the data subject (user).
Data erasure is a data
destruction technique based on overwriting the bits of information with binary
patterns to render it unreadable. It is a prevalent media sanitization technique gaining
prominence in the ITAD industry and enterprises. Given the growing scope &
impact of data protection laws, this article enlightens you on the top 4 myths
of data erasure. The purpose is to help you make an informed decision towards
attaining failsafe regulatory compliance and data privacy.
Myth 1: Formatting Erases
the Data Completely
Fact: No, Formatting does not erase the data beyond recovery.
If you intend to get rid of the data entirely
beyond recovery, especially when you want to donate your old computer to
charity or discard it, formatting your hard disk is not a secure option.
Formatting the device will not delete or remove your stored data permanently;
the data still resides in the storage drive, and a DIY software like Stellar
Data Recovery can get back the data from a formatted hard drive or SSD easily.
Formatting is a process of wiping the
storage partition table and unlinking the data in the file system. It
re-indexes the file system for reusing the drive. Although the user feels that the
data has gone as it becomes invisible, technically, the data resides in the
media. A free DIY data recovery software can retrieve the data.
Therefore, formatting is un-secure
and can lead to data leakage and breach.
Deleting Helps Get Rid of Data
Fact: Not at all; deleting is highly unsafe and can lead to data leakage
Deleting a file or any data from your
computer merely removes the file linkages with the memory locations in the file
system. This fact is true even when you empty the Recycle Bin. Deleting files
and then emptying the Recycle Bin is a classic case of ‘out of sight, out of
mind’. The file vanishes from your sight – you can no longer trace it. So, you
feel secure, believing that it has been permanently destroyed. That is why it
is a myth. The deleted files remain stored on your disk, be it HDD, SSD, or
other external storage media. You may not be able to see them any longer, but
they remain recoverable. A DIY free
data recovery software can get back the deleted files emptied from
the Recycle Bin.
So, deleting is a highly unsafe
method to get rid of files, especially if you are giving away your old PC,
laptop or drive, or selling it off in the secondary market or donating for
charitable reasons. Even if you hand it down to someone you know, it is best to
erase all your data first to ensure that the old data does not haunt you.
Why take a risk? It indeed makes far
more sense to wipe all your data using BitRaser while you
still have control.
Myth 3: SSD Can Be Degaussed
Fact: Degaussing does not destroy the data stored on SSDs.
Degaussing is a process based on neutralizing
the magnetic field of electromechanical storage media such as hard disk drives
to destroy the data. In such a transformation, data gets destroyed beyond
However, that happens only on
traditional hard disks. Degaussing does not work on solid-state drives (SSDs). The process of data storage on SSDs is principally
different from the way traditional electromechanical hard disks store data.
Data storage on SSDs is not magnetic. SSDs use flash memory chips to store the data.
No magnetic coating is necessary for these chips.
Degaussing is almost a golden rule
for data destruction on traditional hard disks because they store data
magnetically. SSDs do not. It’s as simple as that.
Shredding Destroys the Data
Fact: Shredding may not guarantee protection from forensic recovery
Shredding is a physical destruction
method based on disintegrating or severing the storage drive into smaller
dimensions, typically in the size range of 2–30 mm, rendering the data
unrecoverable. The method relies on destroying the storage media such that it
is nearly impossible to read or extract the underlying data.
But, there are possibilities that
shredding may still leave behind some portion of the storage media such as the
platter in a dimension conducive for forensic extraction of the data. Technical
lapses may also happen when a relatively small data storage element, such as the
NAND chip in an SSD slips past the grinder or is only partially destroyed,
leaving open the possibility of data extraction using state-of-the-art
Ending On a Reinforcing
Now that you have a better grip on data erasure, ensure destroying
all the sensitive data before discarding your old computer. You may like to
read more on secure drive wiping software.