Can I Safely Destroy Electronic Data?
As a business in the modern world, odds are you no longer rely solely on physical paperwork and documents to store your company’s information. Most businesses, even the smallest ones, store their data on hard drives. This electronic data includes potentially sensitive information, such as personal client and business partner information, customer credit card information, and employee information (such as their social security numbers). If this data were to be stolen, it could result in serious problems, such as credit card fraud or identity theft. It’s why knowing how to safely destroy electronic data is so important.
Unfortunately, many of the methods businesses use to destroy electronic data are actually not very effective or reliable. The following are common methods for destroying electronic data that you shouldn’t depend on:
Deleting the Data
Simply deleting data off your hard drive doesn’t mean that it’s permanently deleted. Anyone who gets a hold of your hard drive will be able to extract the data you thought you had deleted by using specialized software to retrieve it. Once data has been saved to a hard drive, it will always be there — even if it takes some effort to find and extract.
Corrupting the Data
The idea that corrupting the data on your hard drive will make it impossible to read is valid, but it’s basically impossible to corrupt data these days. Years ago, you could just run a magnet across your hard drive, and it would corrupt it. Unfortunately (although, it’s actually a good thing), hard drives have improved greatly and are designed to withstand corruption in this manner. As such, you’re not going to have much luck trying to corrupt the data on your hard drive.
Overwriting the Hard Drive
You could try to reformat your hard drive completely, but just like deleting your data, reformatting your hard drive won’t permanently remove existing data. Specialized software can still be used to extract old data after the hard drive has been reformatted.
Smashing the Hard Drive
You would think that by physically damaging the hard drive — such as by smashing it with a hammer — would make it impossible to use. However, the entire hard drive isn’t needed in order to retrieve data. Clever thieves can simply remove the necessary components and put together a new hard drive using those components in order to extract your data. You would have to really go to town on the hard drive to ensure that everything inside of the hard drive was completely destroyed. This would take a massive amount of time and effort to do. If you have more than one hard drive that needs data removed from it, it’s simply not a very efficient or effective way to eliminate old data.
Storing the Hard Drive
Many businesses will just put their old hard drives into storage under lock and key. However, the fact that your data still exists and can be extracted means that it’s vulnerable to theft. Someone could always break in and steal your old hard drives — or a disgruntled employee or former employee with access could steal it and sell it to a competitor. Not to mention that you may not have the space to store old electronic devices.
Attempting to destroy your data using the methods listed simply isn’t going to work. Potentially sensitive data can still be withdrawn from your devices despite your efforts. It’s why you should turn to a data destruction company. Look for one, like AccuShred, that has the equipment needed to completely shred your electronic hardware so that it’s impossible to extract any data. For more information about our data destruction services, contact us at AccuShred today.