Virtually everything we do in today’s world is tracked on computers which means the security of that information is critical.
A single data breach can reveal sensitive information about millions of people.
In some cases, these data breaches happen because companies don’t take the necessary steps to erase information on old devices.
Let’s look at what data erasure is and why it’s so important.
What is Personally Identifiable Information?
Personally Identifiable Information, or PII, is any information that can get connected to an individual’s identity. This includes things like their name, address, email address, and social security number.
In many cases, you can directly connect PII to an individual but it also applies to information that can be indirectly connected. Given enough information, you can infer these connections.
Examples of PII
There are several types of PII that most companies deal with.
Customer-related PII contains information about your clients such as names, addresses, financial data, and account numbers. In some industries, such as healthcare, it can also contain regulated information like medical records.
Employee-related information contains similar details to customer data. It also adds additional things like performance reviews and direct deposit information.
Corporate information contains things like internal communications, operational data, R&D information, intellectual property, and financial details. If this information gets out, it could have serious consequences for the business.
Data Deletion vs. Data Erasure
While many breaches are the result of hackers breaking through security safeguards, that’s not always the case. In some situations, PII gets exposed when old computers or storage drives get decommissioned and aren’t erased properly.
Formatting a hard drive or deleting the files it contains doesn’t erase the information on the drive. All it does is reset some pointers that tell the operating system where information is stored on the drive.
The information itself is still on the drive and can be recovered using widely-available data recovery tools.
Methods of Secure Data Erasure
There are three options for secure data erasure:
- Data erase software
Software, such as the data erasure tools from Certus Software, securely erases any information on the drive. It doesn’t just delete the files, it overwrites the storage to ensure there is no trace of the original information.
Degaussers work on any type of magnetic media, such as hard disk drives. They generate a strong magnetic field that disrupts the data and wipes the drive of any recoverable PII.
Shredders are similar to paper shredders but they’re designed to destroy hard drives, SSDs, smartphones, and other physical storage devices. They break them down into tiny pieces, beyond the point at which they could get reconstructed.
Don’t Take Any Chances with Your Data
Your company’s data is too valuable to take chances with, especially if you’re in a regulated industry like healthcare or finance. A single breach could lead to costly fines and potentially put you out of business.
Make sure you’re using effective data erasure tools when replacing older technology.
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