Today’s forensics tools have developed an amazing capacity at recovering data in storage media. The growing threat is that even unskilled criminals can access these tools and use them effectively. Many businesses are yet to realize the threat that comes from insecure handling of end-of-life equipment. Obsolete and redundant equipment is stockpiled after simple data erasure. This failure of secure data destruction can expose a business to huge financial and legal risks and business closure.
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Data Deletion vs Data Destruction
Deleting data does not make it irrecoverable from storage media. It can be recovered and reconstructed with forensic tools. Genuine data recovery efforts often use these tools to recover up to 100% of deleted data. These tools can also be used on partially damaged storage media.
Secure data destruction goes further than deletion. It ensures that data is inaccessible by unauthorized parties by destroying it. This destruction can be caused by encrypting the data in an unreadable format, or physical destruction of the storage media.
Physical data destruction at SPW obliterates the data storage media such that it is impossible to read the data on it. The two commonly used physical data destruction methods are crushing and shredding. Physical data destruction is very effective when performed by a professional data destruction service.
What Are the Risks of Improper Data Destruction?
There are different parties who are always on the lookout for confidential data. Hackers want data they can use for criminal purposes. Competitors want data they can use to gain an upper hand on your business. There are criminals of opportunity who will misuse improperly secured data when the opportunity presents itself. Some threats to a business include:
Hackers actively seek Personally Identifiable Information (PII) like name, social security numbers, addresses, telephone numbers, credit card and bank account information. This data is very useful in identity theft attacks where these criminals impersonate the original owners of the data. The hackers can then access siphon bank accounts, apply for credit, or subscribe to expensive services.
A study done on hard drives sold on eBay showed that 15% of the hard drives in the survey kept PII such as email addresses, names and photos. In 2006, Idaho Power Co. had a data breach when hard drives meant for disposal were put up on eBay without proper data destruction.
Data breaches involving the PII are very damaging to a business. Data privacy laws like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) have placed high penalties on data breaches. For example, GDPR penalizes up to 20 million euros, or 4% of a business’ annual revenues.
Hackers assess the easiest route of entry when attacking a network. In the reconnaissance phase, they use any information that can help them map the network. This information could be employee names and positions, and email addresses. Hackers can get such information from stockpiled redundant storage media.
Corporate espionage tries to gain information that can give rivals an upper hand. Such information includes product development data for a popular product. Some unscrupulous rivals are willing to pay big money to gain such proprietary data. For example, this data can be found in computer labs that have not been disposed of properly.
Loss of proprietary data translates to financial losses in research and development, and the missed market opportunities for the product.
Both business employees and clients are at a risk of blackmail when confidential data leaks. A good example is leaking of confidential health records. Malicious actors can leverage leaked confidential data to extract different favors that may damage the business. For example, an employee may be forced to provide network access credentials or product development data.
Why Invest in Data Destruction?
Secure data destruction helps your business avoid the data security dangers outlined above. In doing so, the business reaps several benefits:
Avoiding financial and legal complications
Secure data destruction keeps a business compliant with data privacy laws like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The business avoids the incurring financial fines and other legal penalties. Compliance is more crucial for start-ups and small businesses whose budgets cannot sustain these financial penalties.
Keeping confidential data safe is crucial in retaining a good brand reputation. This is truer in sensitive industries like banking and health services. Customers will stay loyal to brands that inspire confidence and confidentiality.
Data destruction has become a crucial task in the overall cybersecurity strategy in business. The implications of a data breach in today’s increasingly regulated environment are too grave to risk. But many businesses do not have the capacity to do secure data destruction.
Engaging professional data destruction services is highly advised to do a proper job. These services are better resourced at handling this crucial task. Your business will stay secure, compliant and competitive in today’s dynamic business environment.