What does data sanitization mean?
Data sanitization is the method of completely and irreversibly destroying stored data on a media/storage device. Among the storage devices which can be sanitized are flash memory (USB devices) devices, magnetic disks, compact disks, and DVDs. If a device has been sanitized properly, there should not be any usable residual data. Even advanced tools and techniques won’t be able to recover the information. Techniques for data sanitization include specialized software that removes data, specialized devices which are used to connect to the storage devices and erase the data, and a method that physically destroys the storage devices so data can’t be recuperated in any way possible.
One way to dispose of company’s or personal data from a PC, laptop or any other electronic device is a secure data sanitization method. This process essentially cleans and erases the storage media (hard drives, USB flash drives, tape drives, CD-ROM’s, memory sticks etc.), so it can be reused while maintaining its remarketing and functional value. Every storage medium treated in data sanitization process undergoes a certified disk wiping process. This ensures data is completely removed and can be used for other purposes.
Why do we need Data sanitization?
In a rich IT environment, all types of information, records, and data are stored on various types of storage media like hard drives, USB flash drives, tape drives, CD-ROM’s, memory sticks etc. When you no longer want to use these storage devices, the data should be removed safely & securely to prevent any kind of unauthorized access and exploitation. Data sanitization can save you from such troubles. This is the situation when you need a reliable data sanitization service.
Why should the data be removed?
There are plentiful reasons for sanitizing the data from media devices before disposing of it. One of them could be that the server which hosts the data and is being replaced with a newer one. Another reason perhaps is that the backup data on tapes or CD-ROMs are no longer required and need to be expunged. Or maybe the hard-drive on the computer system is inoperable and needs to be erased.
Why is the deletion of data, not enough?
There are different ways the in which data can be deleted from your PCs or laptops The most usual way is to move the files into recycle bin/trash can and then empty the bin (in modern Operating Systems). However, the data being deleted aren’t the actual file, they are only pointers to the stored files. Deleting these pointers doesn’t necessarily completely remove the data files. They remain on the HDD as unallocated space. There are refined methods which can be utilized to recover the deleted data previously stored even if the unallocated drive space has been utilized by new files.
It’s quite a common misapprehension that by deleting the files and formatting the hard-drive, the entire stored data has been securely erased. Like deleting the files and emptying the recycle bin, this utility just modifies the system of those files but doesn’t cause complete data removal. Think of this as getting rid of the table of contents from a book but everything else is left there. All the pointers vanish from the storage, but the pages still exist.
CD-ROMs provide another type of challenge because of their read-only nature. There are no other means available to delete the contents of the CD safely and securely. Inoperable HDDs can also cause challenging issues as they can’t be connected to a system and approached through software.
Secure ways to delete data
As mentioned above, one can’t rely on erasing the data alone and it’s quite important to remember that there are some devices that shows special challenges. So, now the question arises which steps or utilities are used to delete and/or destroy the data securely.
Several methods are used to wipe out complete data from storage devices that include Wiping Utilities, Media Degaussing, Destruction, Disposal, Clearing, Purging, Data Erasure etc.
Conceived and executed effectively, data sanitization method will benefit an individual/organization in three distinct areas. These are-
- Cost and Value
- Data Security
- Environmental Concerns