The Different Forms of Data Destruction To KnowMarch 11, 2021
When many of us think of destroying old data, we imagine restoring the factory settings on our devices, shredding, or incinerating. Though these are all standard methods to eradicate stored information, there are other ways to dispose of that sensitive information. Understanding the different forms of data destruction to know will allow you to decide the best ways to protect and secure your old information.
Deleting information seems straightforward enough—the problem is that there are many fail-safes in place for file deletion, such as digital trash cans. This way, if you delete something accidentally, there are still ways to retrieve it. So if you empty the trash, does that remove all traces of those files on a hard drive? That takes a few more steps. Consider reformatting your drive. Doing so reorganizes the data on your drive and deletes the address tables, making those deleted files more difficult to find and recover.
Wiping is the process of removing data logically to make it unreadable. Using the factory reset on devices is a form of wiping. Simply put, it removes all added information and applications, restoring the device to the way it was when you originally purchased it.
Overwriting is the act of replacing old information with new in computer data storage. A user writes new data over a file system so that, even if someone is able to retrieve the file, the sensitive information is no longer there. It’s common in security algorithms to change old data and files and save over old data.
Also referred to as data clearing or destruction, data erasure is a way of overwriting data using a software-based method. It seeks to destroy all electronic data on a hard disk drive entirely by using a series of ones and zeros to overwrite data. It affects all sectors of the device.
A degausser is a machine that totally erases information on a tape or disk media. It uses a magnetic field to change the magnetic domain on a device, rendering the stored information unreadable. This process is irreversible.
One can accomplish physical destruction of data by drilling, crushing, shredding, or incinerating data storing devices, as previously touched on. In rendering a device completely unusable by simply destroying its form, you’ll ensure no one can read any previously stored media. These different forms of data destruction to know are dependent on the type of information you are trying to terminate and if you want to be able to use a disk or device in the future. For paper, shredding into micro-cut pieces should do the trick, but in this digital world, you need to know how to truly eliminate sensitive data.