The Ultimate Guide to Secure Data Erasure on Loose Drive

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This blog post explains the importance of performing secure data erasure on loose drives. Permanent and certified erasure gives you complete peace of mind as your data cannot be recovered using a data recovery software or even in a laboratory setting.

Loose drives are any data storage drives outside the computers or their peripherals, like printers. With the growing demand for data storage in the cloud, data centers are expanding their capacities through high volume loose drives. During IT Asset refresh cycles, data centers discard bulk/loose drives that are sometimes sold in secondary market. However, if these drives are not wiped properly before discarding, they become a source of data theft and leakage. A secure wiping tool can ensure safe data destruction/erasure before IT asset resale or reuse. Investing in third-party recyclers or IT asset disposition companies (ITADs), disposing of bulk loose drives from data centers or computer peripherals is an innocuous option.

Let’s understand the different kinds of loose drives and the ideal practices for data destruction from them:

1. Loose Drives in Data Centers

At data centers, usually, the physical assets comprise servers, computer hard drives, processors, or data storage drives, with massive storage capacities of petabytes. Large data centers have thousands of network-attached storage units that also consist of loose drives. With technological advancements and to meet growing data storage needs, these storage units need more space to store data. So, data centers resell old devices to maintain the cycle of constant upgradation of the servers.

2. Loose Drives in Printers

Printers in offices store data in its hard drive. Important documents related to business strategies, financial plans, and human resources information remain stored in the printers after usage. As a result, possibilities are high that confidential data can easily be misplaced via a printer. You may refer our article on how a printer can cause confidential data leakage. Once the loose drives in printers are removed from their original device, data destruction requires a combined hardware and the software solution, depending upon the condition of the drive. If the drive has no bad sectors or damage, then a software-based drive erasure tool like BitRaser is ideal to sanitize it .You may learn to wipe the printer drive through our KB.

3. Other Loose Drives

Another key source of loose drives stems from the recyclers, who earn revenue out of processed electronic equipment. They pull out loose drives from second hand devices, like the personal computers and replace it with a refurbished drive. Such companies are also responsible for generating bulk volumes of loose drives.

With a trustworthy data erasure solution IT Asset recyclers can achieve the competence and advantage of secure data wiping from the loose drives. To better understand the market gap due to growing demand for second hand devices, we will take a look at some studies conducted by industry veterans.

Need to Securely Erase Loose Drives

Ideally, secure erasure of loose drives in their host enclosure reduces the burden of maintaining unwanted laptops, hard drives, computer systems, chassis, and so on. Many IT Asset managers perform deletion or formatting of the storage devices, instead of using a reliable data wiping solution to secure erase the data. If the loose drivers of such storage devices fall into the wrong hands, it can jeopardize the customer privacy, pose an uncanny risk of brand reputation loss, and may also result in high regulatory fines from data security regulatory bodies.

According to a residual data study on second hand devices conducted by Stellar, 7 out of 10 storage devices are vulnerable to data breach and privacy risk. For this study, the data recovery giant procured a total of 311 storage devices, including hard drives, memory cards, and mobile phones, from diverse locations of India. These second hand devices were purchased from businesses and direct consumers through online portals or resellers. Over 71 percent of the 311 devices evaluated contained Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and other business data. Nearly 222 devices studied were disposed of in the secondary market without suitable data erasure.

In another study by ComputerWorld, a New York-based computer forensics company, 40 percent of the HDDs purchased on eBay contained PII. The company conducted the study on HDDs – from 40GB to 300GB capacity – bought from the markets in the United States and Canada. As per the study, personal and confidential documents, including financial information (36%), emails (21%), photos (13%), and corporate documents (11%) were found on the drives. Also, the drives contained 11 percent of the web browsing history of the users and 4 percent of DNS server information, along with some miscellaneous data.

Such reports are proof that it is equally vital to erase loose drives as much as the other storage drives at the end-of-life. So, be it the loose drives extracted from a laptop, IT server, CCTV, printer, or any other equipment, choosing a certified data erasure software, like BitRaser, is paramount.

How to Erase Loose Drives?

Loose drives need to be extracted from the device for seamless data erasure through a reliable data erasure solution. We recommend using BitRaser Drive Eraser software to securely erase data from all kinds of loose drives. This software is tested and approved by NIST for erasing SSD and HDD. It supports 24 International Erasure Standards, including DoD 3 and 7 Passes, NIST, etc. Moreover, users can generate customized certificates and audit trails and save it in PDF, CSV, and XML formats.

Please read and follow the step-by-step guide to permanently erase data from loose drives in a secure manner (in internet enabled facility) and generate tamper proof reports of erasure for future audit trail needs. In case you need to wipe data on loose drives at facility without internet, you may refer to this link.

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