How to Degauss a Hard Drive

When it comes to properly disposing of e-waste, it’s important that it goes through the correct data destruction process. When getting rid of e-waste you want to ensure that sensitive or identifying data will be kept out of the wrong hands. Ways to make sure this happens is through the physical destruction of the device or through degaussing the hard drive.

 

There are certain things that must take place to degauss a hard drive. Degaussing is a process that includes reducing or completely eliminating the data that is stored on device that uses magnetic media to store information. Common forms of magnetic media include hard drives, cassettes, reels, disks and tape. During the degaussing process, an intense magnetic field is generated. This magnetic field is so powerful, that the magnetic data on the tape hard disk becomes deutrailized, or erased.

 

If you have lower to medium sized volumes of hard drives that are needed to be degaussed, a magnetic wand degausser is a good option. Don’t be fooled by these small, hand held magnetic devices. You’ll need to expose the hard drive platter and spindle of the hard drive and then run the degausser over the hard drive platter. Be sure to wave the degausser over both sides of the hard drive platter. For companies that have many e-waste items that need to be degaussed, a handheld degausser is not necessarily the most cost-effective or time efficient process. For bulk items, using a third party e-waste recycling company will save you time and money.

What is the chain of custody and why is it important to you

In legal terms, the chain of custody refers to the movement of physical evidence from the time it is acquired until the time it ends up in court in order to prove that the evidence was not tampered with in any way. You might be surprised, but the chain of custody also relates with data destruction companies.

 

When it comes to the destruction of e-waste, the data is being destroyed in order to prevent sensitive and identifying information from falling into the wrong hands. Often, third party data destruction companies will offer pick up services and then take e-waste to an off site location where it will then be destroyed. During this time, when the e-waste, such as hard drives, are being transformed from one location to another, a chain of custody must be established. This ensures that the hard drive in question, for example, made it from one location to the other in a secure fashion and was not tempered with along the way.

 

Data destruction companies often do this by transporting all e-waste from one location to another by using locked storage bins for example in order to keep the information from getting into the wrong hands while it is being transferred. Once the e-waste arrives at a recycling facility, often the devices are scanned in order to ensure that all devices are accounted for. Finally, at the end of the process, a certificate of destruction is presented in order to prove that all accounted for devices have been properly destroyed and recycled.

HDD & SSD, Which is for you?

You have probably heard of a hard disk drive as this has been one of the most common and popular devices to store information on computers and laptops. However, you may have recently started to hear more about a SSD hard drive, or a solid state drive as these are becoming more popular. SSDs are now being found in not only computers and laptops but also tablets, portable drives and cell phones.

 

A hard drive stores information on magnetic media while a solid state drive does not. A SSD is similar in nature to a USB memory stick. Like a thumb drive, an SSD will store its information on microchips and it does not contain moving parts like a disc found on a hard drive. An SSD’s chips will retain the information even when the power source is turned off. Hard drives have been around since the mid 1950s and as a result, they are much more cost effective than an SSD, which uses newer, and more expensive, technologies. While SSDs can be more expensive, the advantage is that they are faster to start up, faster to transfer data and overall performs better than a hard drive as they are thinner, smaller, lighter and will last longer on a single battery charge than a traditional hard drive.

Just as they function different while in use, considering how to effectively manage these two devices when they become e-waste is different too. Since an SSD does not use any magnetic media to store information, a traditional degausser will not work. Instead, the physical destruction of the device is the best way to go for both hard drives and SSDs to ensure all data is irrecoverable. Always remember to get an SSD or hard drive destruction certificate from the e-waste recycling company as proof that the requested e-waste was properly destroyed.

DoD Data Destruction – What you Need to Know

When dealing with data destruction, there are certain standards that have been put out by the Department of Defense. The DoD data destruction standard most commonly cited is the 5220.22-M standard. This data sanitization method was used by the DoD and emerged in the early 90s when data destruction was beginning to emerge. This standard of destruction paved the road for independent companies to also use similar methods of data destruction in their own companies for commercial use.

 

The DoD 5220.22-M standard consists of a method of using multiple overwriting passes with the thought being that overwriting the original data multiple times will make it more secure. On the first pass, they overwrite information with binary zeroes, on the second pass they overwrite information with ones and on the third pass, they overwrite information with a random bit pattern. After the final overwrite, a certificate is completed in order to verify that the overwriting process took place.

 

Today, the U.S. Department of Defense no longer uses the 5220.22-M standard for classified data. Instead, they use a combination of wiping, degaussing and/or physical destruction for their data. As the DoD 5220.22-M standard was first created over 20 years ago, today, other data sanitization standards have begun to come into play such as the NIST 800-88. However, the process of overwriting data in order to protect information, which was put into practice by the DoD 5220.22-M continues to be used today as an effective way to sanitize data.

What You Need To Know About Hard Drive Degaussers

When it comes to e-waste data destruction, there are various forms of destruction that can take place. It’s necessary for e-waste to be destroyed in a certain way in order to ensure identifying data to be kept out of the wrong hands as well as to ensure that the electronic equipment is recycled ethically and in a way that is good for the environment. One popular option for e-waste destruction is a hard drive degausser.

 

A degausser is used on old electronic devices in order to make information stored on these devices unreadable and irretrievable. Degaussing is the process of demagnetizing a magnetic object that stores information such as a hard disk drive, a computer tape, or CRT monitor. When these devices are exposed to a magnetic field of greater intensity then their own, the place where the information is stored becomes demagnetized, thus the information becomes neutralized and erased. While degaussing is required for agencies that have “classified” or “top secret” information, degaussing is also a great option for those companies and businesses that have personal and identifying information. Whether you are trying to protect your customer’s information or your employees, degaussing is an excellent option.

 

If you are wondering if computer tape and hard drives can be reused after degaussing, the answer depends on which form of media is being degaussed. Analog and digital video cartridges for example can be reused after going through a degausser machine. Other form of media however such as hard disk drives cannot be reused after being degaussed. If the device is not going to be reused after degaussing, then the device can be recycled and precious metals can be reused. If you are looking to simply get rid of old electronic devices in an ethical way that will keep sensitive and identifying information out of the wrong hands, then degaussing is an excellent choice.

How to Destroy VHS Tapes

Thanks to the increase in technology, consumers are seeing more and more ways to store their information. Gone are the days of floppy disks and instead, more and more people are using the cloud and the internet to store their items. While this saves space, it might leave consumers wondering how to destroy VHS tapes and other old forms of storage devices. One of the best ways to destroy a VHS tape is through secure e-waste destruction.

 

One difficulty with getting rid of tape media is that it is not a biodegradable product meaning the VHS tape will end up in landfills where it will sit for hundreds of years. Additionally, simply burning the memory tape found in a VHS as well as the plastic will actually release toxic fumes. These toxic fumes get into the air and may even pollute water sources if enough is burned. Instead of burning, consider a third party e-waste recycling and destruction company.

 

There are two main ways to dispose of a VHS tape. The first is through erasing the existing data from the tape by using a powerful magnet. When the tape is passed through the magnetic field, it will actually scramble and rearrange the magnetic particles on the tape, essentially erasing all the existing data and making it unreadable. The second method is through the physical destruction of the tape. The tape is put into a machine where it is then pulverized into thousands of tiny pieces. If there are any pieces that can be recycled, it will be recycled at this point. If not, the pulverized remaining pieces can then be sent to a landfill. These two ways of disposing a VHS tape will ensure that the media stored on the device will not fall into the wrong hands so you will know your data can remain safe and secure.

Important Federal Data Destruction Requirements

When it comes to data security, the dangers of e-waste are not to be ignored. Properly taking care of e-waste is a crucial part of data security for a variety of reasons. Oftentimes, businesses focus all of their attention on securing live data stored on the cloud or on working computers and they forgot about all data stored on no longer used electronic devices. Even when files from e-waste are deleted, the information is still stored on the hard drive making it particularly susceptible for this data to be retrieved. Luckily, there federal data destruction requirements that guard against identifying data falling into the wrong hands.

 

Due to the increasingly adept technology in recovering data, it is becoming more and more important to be aware of the dangers of e-waste. Data recovery techniques are routinely used in recovering data stored on devices that have been crushed, burned, submerged in water, and more. If data can be so easily recovered from devices, it is imperative to keep identifying data secure. Some of the federally mandated best practices for making deleted data irrecoverable includes overwriting, wiping data, and the physical destruction of data.

 

Overwriting data is a process where, essentially, a software is used to rewrite new data over old data a number of times. The software overwrites so many times that the original data is finally unreadable. Wiping data is a process that uses a strong magnet to affect the area of a electronic device that stores information. This magnet scrambles this process and information can no longer be stored or retrieved from the device. The final best practice for e-waste is the physical destruction of data. In this case, hard drives and other electronic devices that have identifying data stored on them are physically destroyed and pulverised. This process 100% secures that your data will never fall into the wrong hands as the device is totally destroyed.

 

The 2017 guide to data destruction and security

In this world of fast paced technology, it seems like there is always a new cyber threat that companies need to be aware of. While there are a number of ways to protect your company’s sensitive information against cyber attacks, you might also want some data security advice specifically about what happens at the end of an electronic equipment’s life cycle. Read on to learn more about the importance of data destruction when it comes to data security.

One of the first things that your company will want to do is to create a company wide procedure for data destruction. Data destruction is important because all forms of data remain on the hard drive of a computer or device even after the files have been deleted. If the physical piece of equipment gets into the wrong hands, your company may be at risk of a security breach. In the world of data security, the best offense is a good defense and the way to defend against a breach is by first creating a plan. When it comes to your data destruction policy, you’ll want to determine everything in your company that may require data destruction such as hard drives from computers, servers on the company LAN, portable storage devices such as USB drives and even phones. Once a list is compiled, determine where the devices will go once they are retired. The best way to keep your data secure is through the physical destruction of these devices via a third party data destruction company.

Once the plan is in place, it is imperative that all staff are informed about the policy as well as being informed about the importance of data destruction. Let them know that devices such as copy machines, printers, mobile phones, tablets and USB drives can all be potential security breaches. As a result, they should never simply be thrown away. Finally, once a device is retired, be sure to acquire documentation that the data has been destroyed. Only hire a third party company that will provide a certificate of destruction. This certificate will often include information such as the type of device that was destroyed as well as the serial number of the hard drive or the storage device that was destroyed. These are some simple guidelines to follow in order to achieve best practices when it comes to data security.  

 

Who Handles Data Destruction Audits?

All companies have to create a plan for when their electronic devices are retired. With technology changing so quickly, companies are trying to keep up with the latest improvements. While this is a good thing, it also means that there are an increased amount of old hard drives and information devices that are being stored somewhere. While these old devices are not being used anymore, they are still a liability. One of the best ways to make sure your company does not fall victim to a costly safety breach is to undergo a safety audit.

One of the most common safety standards that is used internationally is the OHSAS 18001. This international used standard is a British based standard for safety management and occupational health systems. Its key parts help to create a guide or framework for elements such as how to reduce the potential for accidents, how to identify and lower health and safety risks, how to remain legally compliant and how to generally improve overall performance. The updated OHSAS 18001 has been formatted to similar standards such as the ISO 14000 so that more organizations could easily adopt the OHSAS standards.

Following the OHSAS standards is a great way to start your data security audit. The process will help to ensure your company is doing everything in its power to remain secure. Additionally there are things your company can do today to make sure you have a good data security plan in place. The first thing you need to do is chart out the life cycle of an individual asset such as an old hard drive. Once the hard drive is retired, where does it go? Does it end up in a landfill or do you take it to storage? Once it’s in storage is that it’s final destination or will it continue to a third party re-marketer or recycler? If you’re undergoing an internal audit, make sure there is a plan in place for retired electronic assets. To be secure, consider sending retired electronics to a third party data destruction company to ensure sensitive information won’t get into the wrong hands.  

Data Destruction Associations

The world of data destruction has increasingly grown in popularity and importance as the necessity of data destruction has grown. As the industry grew, much like any industry, data destruction associations were created. Data destruction associations provide a number of resources and information to members as well as providing networking opportunities within the industry.

Currently, the largest association within the data destruction industry is the National Association for Information Destruction, also known as NAID. The association provides information on the standards and ethics of providing data destruction services. Included in the NAID are also paper shredding companies and companies that provide goods and services to the industry such as shredding equipment and all shredding container supplies. NAID also offers AAA Certification, which is the only quality assurance program within the industry. When a company gets AAA Certified it means that they are not in violation of HIPAA and meet industry standards in a variety of areas including safety and management. In addition, with a NAID AAA Certification, it means that a business has been verified and put through a comprehensive and unannounced audit program and that they have passed all industry standards. Being NAID AAA certified ensures potential customers of these companies that they are meeting numerous regulations and laws that protect the customer’s information. Some of these regulations include the FACTA Final Disposal Rule, the FACTA Red Flags Rule, and the HIPAA Security Rule.

The Professional Records & Information Services Management, PRISM, is another data destruction association in the industry. Initially, this data destruction association was concerned primarily with the storage of records and management industry. Since it’s start, PRISM has expanded its horizons to working with a wide range of information and records management clients. Today, they also represent the interests of the quickly growing data destruction offset of the information management industry.