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Friday, July 12, 2024

The Importance of Data Sanitization

Over the past 10 years there have been over 300 data breaches involving the theft of 100,000 or more records (that have been disclosed publicly). Moreover, despite being a vital step in avoiding unauthorized access to or breaches of sensitive data, data sanitization is still little known and sometimes overlooked in the tech and IT security sectors.

One of the most crucial factors to take into account when choosing an IT Asset Disposition partner is its approach to data sanitization. It is always crucial to ensure that your information is secure. When a company is discontinuing obsolete technology, data sanitization is one of the most critical aspects of that security.

In this blog, we’ll define data sanitization, discuss its importance, and how you can use data erasure software to carry it out.

What is Data Sanitization:

Data sanitization includes intentionally and irreversibly removing or erasing information from a storage medium to ensure it will not be retrieved.

Typically, when data is removed from storage devices, the medium is not entirely wiped, and any intruder who acquires control of the device may retrieve the information. This raises serious questions about data protection and confidentiality. Sanitization involves cleansing storage media so that there is no residual material on the disk and no data can be retrieved, not even using the most powerful forensic techniques.

Why is Data Sanitization Important?

Due to the continued rise in the usable lifespan & storage space of storage facilities, IT infrastructure sometimes keeps crucial business information, even after it’s been discontinued. These resources may consist of:

  • Both desktop and laptop disc drives
  • Mobile devices
  • Specialized storing device

Whenever an organization’s IT resources have reached their end-of-life, devices should be sanitized (ie, re-imaged) before being disposed of or reused.  This will verify that any confidential material saved on the device has adequately been deleted. The primary operating system data, file allocation table (FAT), etc., are overwritten during re-imaging. Old data hasn’t been destroyed yet.

The OS instead flags data for erasure after deleting copies of documents that the users may access or control. Documents are overwritten when the OS requires extra space, and only after that, is the data truly deleted from the resource. Gigabytes of content could still be present on a device because of its high storage capacity.

How can we effectively perform data sanitization to minimize the risks?

To effectively perfrom data sanitization, use one of the following three tested techniques:

  • Physical Destruction

Smashing a disk drive or perhaps an outdated computer with a built-in hard drive, is the easiest and simplest method to sanitize a device. The storage media can be destroyed in two ways:

  1. With the help of industrial shredders.
  2. Using degaussers to permanently delete data from hard disc drives (HDD) by exposing the device to an intense magnetic field.

The drawback of this method is that it destroys the storing medium and prevents it from being repurposed or resold.  These methods are more difficult and costly to perform and they can also cause damage to the environment.

  • Data erasure

The most secure and preferred strategy is data erasure. This is a software-based technique in which the entire storing device’s sector is overwritten. The old information is overwritten by entering 1 and 0 over all of it, making it impossible to restore the information.

The data erasure software used for this approach needs to allow for the normal selection process in which overwriting happens in accordance with the requirements of the company or industry.

To assure data sanitization, the utilized data erasure software needs to validate the         operation after rewriting. Upon validation, the software must issue a tamper-proof           certification to ensure that there is no way to retrieve deleted information.

The drawback of data erasure is that it takes a long time and is challenging to complete in the device’s lifespan.

  • Cryptographic erasure

In this approach, every piece of information on the device is encrypted using public-key encryption with a secure key of a minimum of 128 bits. The information cannot be    decrypted and is rendered unusable without the secret key. The device is then wholly wiped of all information by discarding the secret key.

Sanitizing storage systems quickly and effectively is possible with cryptography. It works well for portable and mobile storage systems or those holding susceptible material. To        guarantee that the encryption key has been removed, encryption methods must provide    tamper-proof certification.

Since the data essentially stays on the system, cryptographic erasing typically fails to comply with regulatory standards for data sanitization.

Conclusion

Today’s world depends heavily on information and data. We can barely survive for one day without it. Therefore, data needs to be protected. If the information is not safe, you could be looking at a breach of your data. The person that now owns your old device has the power to exploit you and cause you irreversible damage. As a result, you must protect your data, information, and conversations after use. Data sanitization has the potential to secure that information.

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