Don’t forget to delete your data

New year, new kit for work? Don’t forget to set up the new kit securely. Just as important: don’t forget to delete your data from your old kit before disposing of it, whether this is by passing a usable device to someone else, or discarding a damaged device.

You may know that ‘deleting your data’ doesn’t mean that the files are deleted. It just means that the pointer to the file has been deleted. The file itself could be recovered by someone with the right skills if they do it before the file is overwritten by new data. Factory reset options may not be sufficient either.

To truly clean up your old device, you should do more than ‘delete’ the data—you’ll need to erase it and maybe even destroy the medium holding the data. Don’t forget to back up any data that you want to keep first…

There are specialist providers of data sanitization services available, and the right solution for your business will depend on the sensitivity of the data held on the device. Options include:

  • Data erasure software. This overwrites all data. It does not destroy the storage media, so it can be safely reused, but it is a slower method of sanitisation, compared to others.
  • Cryptographic erasure. This involves encryption of the data and the destruction of the encryption key so that the data can’t be read. This is quick, and means the storage can be reused, but leaves all the data still on the storage medium, at least until it is overwritten with new data. It may be unreadable now, but there is the possibility that it could be decrypted in the future
  • Degaussing: this involves physical destruction of the storage media by using a magnetic field to make it unusable
  • Shredding: this is physical destruction of the storage medium by breaking it into tiny pieces
  • Incineration: physical destruction of the storage medium by reducing it to ash.

This may seem like extra work. However, it means that your business data remains secure—not out there in someone else’s hands. And you do have a responsibility to keep personal data safe. If you’d like more information or advice on information security for your business, contact us on 0113 733 6230, or use our contact form.