Role of Data Erasure in Disaster Recovery Plan

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The ever-increasing data has been a concern for businesses over the years. Organizations dealing with data processing, storage and data transfer need to take adequate measures in order to prevent data leakage during a disaster. It is crucial to formulate a disaster recovery plan addressing data disposal practices too in order to mitigate risks of data breach and maintain business continuity. This blog discusses in detail the importance of data erasure in a disaster recovery plan.

What is Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP)?

A disaster recovery plan is a set of written guidelines that help businesses to respond quickly and effectively when a disaster strikes to reduce damage and quickly resume operations. Such a plan includes the emergency response team, critical IT assets with maximum allowed downtime and the tools as well as resources necessary to restore functionality in minimal time. By planning in advance and aligning the right approach to overcome IT disruptions to networks, servers, computers, laptops, and mobile devices, organizations can withstand their worst nightmare.

Data Erasure in Disaster Recovery Plan

Possibility of unauthorized access to company data is higher when a disaster hits the organization. While the organization is preoccupied with getting the business up and running and setting up the IT infrastructure, they shouldn’t forget to look into wiping data on devices that got destructed or damaged during the disaster. This prevents any undue exposure of data from falling into wrong hands. Organizations must integrate data erasure in their disaster recovery plan (DRP) for preventing any data getting compromised, ultimately leading to data breach.

To ensure data security, disaster recovery planning must address data protection throughout the data lifecycle by devising best practices of data destruction through a well-defined policy. We enlist below some of the key considerations for organizations while including data erasure strategy in their DRP plan.

  1. Formulate a sound data destruction policy that defines fundamental protocols to appropriately handle both active and data at rest during a disaster. Specify all kinds of data and media types that needs to be wiped or destructed post disaster (be it files, VMs, NAS, HDD, SSD, printer, etc.) as a safety mechanism.
  2. Specify the erasure and verification methods to be used by IT asset managers for secure destruction of IT assets. Professional data eraser tools like BitRaser can be used for permanent erasure of data on storage devices. Care must be taken to choose the right erasure algorithms when wiping conventional hard drives, flash-based storage media or modern hybrid drives. Every erasure performed must be verified by the tool to ensure that no trace of data is left behind.
  3. Train your disaster recovery team to perform secure media sanitization before giving the devices for recycling or physical destruction post a disaster.
  4. If hiring a third-party vendor for IT assets disposition, ensure that they ardently follow global erasure standards like NIST and DoD, etc. for secure media sanitization. The vendors must provide a documented proof of data destruction generated by the software that helps in meeting statutory compliance obligations.
  5. Reduce and limit human intervention by choosing automated data erasure tools that can wipe multiple devices simultaneously or can erase over a network.
  6. Lastly, ensure that data wiping utility generates digital tamper-proof reports and certificates that serve as audit trails for meeting compliance with global data privacy regulations.

Disaster stricken organization generally prefer to opt for physical destruction methods such as shredding of their damaged devices. The technique is effective but has many grim consequences as it may leave chances of forensic data recovery from an inadequately shredded media, like a chunk of the hard drive platter. On the contrary, if the company choses to destruct data from affected devices using logical technique of overwriting (through a data wiping software), then it helps them comply with EPA regulations by rendering the device reusable and reducing e-waste.

Conclusion

Stay a step ahead and plan well for disasters through a well laid Disaster Recovery Plan that defines the data erasure protocols and procedures to safeguard the organization from potential risks of data leakage. Mitigating Risks of data leakage and data theft during disaster is important for the organization as it may otherwise lead to millions of dollars penalty due to non-compliance with the laws of land. Media sanitization by the right professional tools ensures that no data is left behind on either old devices or in-use devices. Consider permanent data erasure crucial for disaster recovery planning and minimize the impact of unplanned business downtime that may happen if the company data is exposed to cyber intruders or dumpster divers.

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