Importance of Data Destruction in Cybersecurity

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This blog explains the significance of data destruction from the cybersecurity standpoint to protect personal information of customers, clients, investors, and employees. Organizations can no more view data destruction and cybersecurity separately. Safeguarding active data from threat actors is just not enough without devising a robust data destruction strategy for devices and data at rest.

Cybersecurity has predominantly become a matter of high concern for data protection. Thanks to virtual working due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations have become more prone to cybersecurity threats due to scattered data on devices at home and in offices. Businesses need to proactively guard sensitive information at both devices in use and those that are at rest.

Data destruction indeed has been a hot topic especially due to improper disposal of IT assets that triggered data theft episodes. Numerous incidents of customer information and records being compromised from the devices at rest or in transit have been reported globally. One such episode of HealthReach Community Health Center in Maine, USA is an outcome of a data breach due to negligence, compromising 100,000+ patients’ financial and healthcare details.

Let’s take a look at the consequences of compromised cybersecurity and how data destruction is the answer to it:

Cybersecurity Threats From Data at Rest

Digitization has revolutionized the way we see and experience the world. The turf on which the corporate world operates has become dense and hence security concerns for organizations have amplified basis the issues faced by them. Using consistent cybersecurity threat metrics, organizations can revitalize their ability to comprehend, control, and counter cyber burglars.

Often, IT assets that are overlooked at the end-of-life raise a big question mark on the cybersecurity arrangements of the enterprise. Read our article on “Data Security is Mostly Overlooked at the End-of-Life of IT Assets” to learn about the repercussions of unsafe data destruction. Many known brands have suffered massive penalties and reputation loss owing to data breaches and lapse.

Cybercriminals aim to compromise digital security of businesses and their efforts are not limited to data actively used. Data at rest, in storage, or in transit, all are always at risk. Hackers are very well-aware that most companies habitually rid themselves of physical devices without permanently wiping of data from them.

They even scan trash to dig out drives containing sensitive information lying under the waste. Read our informative piece on “Dumpster Diving” that brings out the vulnerability of cybersecurity threats from the storage devices disposed of in the trash bin without adequately wiping the data from the device.

According to a BBC report, the second hand devices available on eBay contained personal information of old users. Out of the 200 drives collected for survey by the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), 11 percent contained hyper sensitive data. Also, 2 drives had enough intimate data to manipulate previous owners’ identities. Even a Computer Weekly report unveiled the ignorance of businesses in the UK towards data wiping from old IT equipment. About 71 percent of organizations in the trade sector lacked data destruction policy to safely dispose of obsolete devices. Nearly 47 percent of trade workers confessed unawareness of internal data disposing measures.

Evidently, there is a major void in the system that is an outcome of constant ignorance of basic cyber hygiene. Threat actors are proactively learning innovative ways to exploit cyber vulnerabilities while organizations are still not geared to handle robust data destruction practices. As a result, cybersecurity breaches happen quite often due to ignorance of data destruction techniques and companies face the brunt of penalties along with serious reputation loss.

To overcome such possible repercussions of frail cybersecurity arrangements, enterprises need a proven solution. Robust Data Destruction can complement an organization’s cybersecurity efforts by ensuring that threat actors can never have the access to data at rest. Let’s have a look at different ways of data destruction:

What Are The Modern Methods Of Data Destruction?

There are several different techniques of data destruction. An organization needs to choose a suitable technique based on factors like storage media type, internal policy mandates, audit and compliance requirement, logistic and financial constraints, technical expertise, etc. We will discuss three predominant data destruction technique:

  • Logical Destruction aka overwriting
  • Degaussing
  • Physical Destruction

Logical Destruction Aka Overwriting
Logical destruction is the process of replacing old data with the new random data. It employs a series of 0s and 1s that are overwritten on the storage device existing data. Overwriting completely destroys the data in a storage device and makes recovery impossible. This method is preferred by organizations as it keeps the storage device reusable and reduces e-waste. Generally, Overwriting is done using global erasure standards like DoD, NIST etc.

Degaussing
Degaussing is yet another method of destroying data from hard drives and other storage media with magnetic platter. It is performed with the help of a degausser that completely demagnetize the platter of the drive, rendering it useless. The strong magnetic waves of the degausser permanently “scrambles” all of the data. Although, degaussing destroys the data but it renders even the device useless, unlike overwriting. This leads to e-waste accumulation and is less desirable method of getting rid of data.

Physical Destruction
As the name suggests, physical destruction is the process of physically destroying the device or document by mechanically disintegrating them into pieces or flames. Physical destruction tasks are normally overseen by professional third-party vendors to ensure that the company remains compliant with global data destruction norms. Physical destruction, however, does leave the scope of data recovery from fragments of disintegrated devices.

A Persistent Approach to Data Destruction- BitRaser Data Eraser

A sound data destruction policy can bolster cybersecurity. A reliable software like BitRaser proves helpful in performing permanent data destruction, following 24 global erasure standards. It works by overwriting the data via single or multiple passes, using advanced algorithms. It also offers documented proof of erasure in the form of reports and certificates that can be useful for audit purposes. Top IT asset disposition companies across the globe prefer BitRaser for permanent data wiping.  

By considering a top-notch procedure for data destruction, organizations can perform data protection and disposition at the same time. Otherwise, even an amateur hacker is capable of getting easy access to sensitive data like daily business transactions, finance statement, client details, and so on, by simply observing the pattern of dumping hard drives without appropriate data wiping in it.

Read this article to learn several techniques of data destruction in order to perform a suitable course of action to avert cybersecurity risks. Following a poised data destruction policy is idyllic to escape cyber burglary.

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