From printed documents carried by horse & buggy to now having electronic data traveling as radio waves moving almost as fast as we can think of it, today’s society benefits so much from the advancements in the world of information availability and access. As individuals collect data, after a while many may want to dispose of some. Whether you own a company or just have your own individual storage of electronic data, there will soon come a time when you will need to dispose of your collected electronic data, or perform data destruction.
Electronic data destruction (disposal of data on an electronic device) is not the same as physical data destruction (disposal of data printed on paper media). Where paper media can simply be shredded and/or recycled, the disposal of electronic data is different due to how it is stored on a device. The electronic data will need to be destroyed and the device itself will also need to be recycled.
So, for some people, it can be rather difficult to find a good way to: protect their collected information, especially if it’s in large amounts, destroy their data that is no longer needed, and then recycle the device it is on properly when they are done.
Additionally, for businesses, destroying data, especially personal information, there are many regulations and federal laws that dictate proper data destruction methods. Some of these regulations require specific conditions for how electronic data is destroyed.
Yet before delving into the different types of electronic data destruction methods, it’s important to understand the definition of data destruction.
The Definition Of Electronic Data Destruction
Most people that use computers, laptops, phones and other electronic devices believe that disposing of their data on these devices is as simple as just deleting a file or using physical means to get rid of devices or information on them. According to TechTarget, electronic data destruction is “the process of destroying data stored on tapes, hard disks, and other forms of electronic media.” The objective of this process is to render all data contained on such electronic devices completely inaccessible and irretrievable. So, to accurately and securely perform this task, the process of electronic data destruction is thus significantly more complex.
Electronic Data Destruction vs Electronic Data Sanitization
Electronic data destruction is mainly performed with the use of physical machines such as a degausser, a shearer, a shredder, a pulverizer, or an incinerator. These machines both destroy the data and the devices containing the information. This method is the most frequent means of electronic data destruction.
Although electronic data sanitization is also the process of irreversibly removing or destroying electronic data. Its process is fairly different from electronic data destruction. Electronic data sanitization is mainly performed using computer software. Performed correctly, a device that has been sanitized has no usable residual data, and even with the assistance of advanced forensic tools, the data will not ever be recovered. However, there stands a risk of failure therefore this process requires verification. Yet with many this process serves as the primary method for destroying electronic data.
Common Types Of Electronic Data Destruction
There are three primary methods for destroying data: overwriting, degaussing and physical destruction. Here is a close analysis of each of these techniques.
Overwriting is one of the most commonly used methods of data destruction. It involves erasing information by replacing it with new files. Overwriting is performed using special software programs that write patterns of ones and zeroes over the existing data in order to make the previous information unreadable. Depending on the type of data that a device contains, (i.e. how sensitive information is) one or multiple overwrites may be necessary.
One notable downside to overwriting is the fact that it is a lengthy process. Additionally, this method cannot be utilized to erase data from a hard drive that has been damaged. Nevertheless, overwriting is an extremely eco-friendly and cost-efficient way to destroy information.
Degaussing consists of disrupting the magnetic field found in hard drives or other magnetic storage devices. Whereby data is exposed to a powerful magnetic field and neutralized; leaving the information unrecoverable. The machine used to carry out this process is called a degausser and can come in many different formats, including coil, permanent magnet and capacitive discharge. Degaussing is a form of physical destruction however the electronic media is not “physically” destroyed in the process.
A noteworthy drawback of degaussing is the fact that the equipment utilized to perform this process is often heavy and expensive. Also, some degaussers are approved by the National Security Agency, while others are not.
Physical destruction is perhaps the most successful and secure method of destroying data. Common ways of physically erasing information include shredding, pulverizing, or incineration. Despite its effectiveness, physical data destruction is also often expensive and comes with a disadvantage because the given device is only remarketable as scrap.
Why Is Electronic Data Destruction Important?
Electronic data destruction is important because certain types of information (e.g. classified government data) may potentially be used against an individual or an organization. The cost of resolving such an issue is often extremely high. Thus, data destruction services can help you save a substantial amount of time and money. Additionally, an excess of information may also become a nuisance to a person or an organization. By destroying data, a company can become more efficient by avoiding the process of sorting through information and identifying which data is relevant and necessary for its services and objectives.
Speak To An Electronic Data Destruction Expert At e-End
Reach out to the experts at e-End in Frederick, Maryland for more information on electronic data destruction methods and their benefits. We are one of the most respected organizations in the Mid-Atlantic region, due to the fact that we have achieved the NAID®’s AAA Certification for specialized electronic data destruction services such as hard drives and SSDs. We are validated by the highest electronic certifications to help you ensure that you remain compliant with federal laws such as SOX, FACTA, FISMA, COPPA, and HIPAA.
At e-End, our electronic data destruction services also include secure electronic data sanitization, degaussing, shredding and more. We can destroy several different types of magnetic storage media, including open-reel tapes, cassettes, floppy disks, hard drives, access cards, and SSD’s. Call e-End today at (240) 713-5855 or contact us online to learn more about our services.