Oftentimes businesses and their employees think that if they simply delete their confidential electronic files, reformat or restore their devices to original settings, or recycle them, that no one will have access to them. It’s even seen on TV and in the movies where people will use a strong magnet to clear devices. But does any of this actually work? Is the information still on the device and accessible? And if so, what’s the best way to protect your information from a breach?
Electronic files can contain confidential information that if accessed by the wrong people can put you and your business at risk. A data breach can be damaging to your business in many different ways. Heavy fines can also be charged in the event of a data breach. The Ponemon Institute recently released an updated study on the cost of a data breach. It is extremely important for you to be knowledgeable about proper hard drive destruction, and to implement safe procedures at your workplace for disposing of confidential information.
Let’s start with the WRONG ways to dispose of your old hard drives…
- DO NOT: Recycle your old hard drives. Recycling is great when it comes to household items, and even various electronic devices, but hard drives need proper destruction. If you recycle hard drives, there is no way to ensure that the information on them isn’t accessed or stolen prior to recycling.
- DO NOT: Store obsolete hard drives in your office. Storing your information allows it to be accessed. Even in a locked storage closet or cabinet, the information still exists and if someone wants to access it, they will find a way.
- DO NOT: Delete, reformat or restore to original settings. Special software exists that can obtain information from electronic devices even after it’s been deleted. Reformatting, deleting, and resto
ring settings are not safe ways to completely destroy the information.
- DO NOT: Smash it up to destroy the information. Some people still believe in the “old fashioned” way of doing things, and they think that taking a hammer to something to destroy it is safe. Unfortunately, many people don’t even know what part of the hard drive actually stores the data and therefore they don’t know what to smash. This is not a realistic or safe option for business.
So, now that you know what NOT to do, you are probably wondering what you SHOULD do! What is the proper and safe way of disposing of old hard drives?
Hire a AAA NAID certified information management company. This is the most effective way to ensure that the information is destroyed and not accessed by anyone that is not authorized to view it. Hard drive destruction is not something to take lightly. Talk to your information management specialists and set up a regular schedule for the destruction of old hard drives (and other electronic devices). Ask for a certificate of destruction for your compliance records.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Your old hard drive isn’t safe unless it’s properly destroyed.