There have been over 4 billion records exposed thus far in 2019. A popular method hackers use to get private information is to look at old data drives.

How can you protect information when it’s time for you to recycle your old data drives? It’s easy: use data sanitization!

What is sanitization? And how does it work? Read on to learn 5 things you have to know about data sanitization.

1. What is Data Sanitization?

Data sanitization is the process of permanently destroying data in a nonrecoverable way. That means that the device has no residual data and cannot be recovered, even with advanced tools.

Data sanitization is important for protecting business or government secrets. It’s also essential for protecting personal information after throwing away a memory drive. The three main methods of data sanitization are data erasure, cryptographic erasure, and physical destruction.

2. How Does Cryptographic Erasure Sanitize Data?

Cryptographic erasure encrypts data and then erases the key needed to decrypt it. The data remains on the original device, but it’s impossible to decrypt without the key.

To use cryptographic erasure, the storage device’s encryption must allow the software to access and remove the key. Then, it must provide a new key to replace the old key so that the old key is not recoverable. Finally, it must produce a certificate verifying the key’s removal.

Cryptographic erasure is quick and easy. But it’s far from the most secure option on the market. Because the data remains on the storage device, it often doesn’t follow government or business requirements.

3. How Does Physical Destruction Sanitize Data?

Physical destruction physically breaks the storage media so the data isn’t recoverable. Most companies use large shredders that crush the drives into small pieces.

Another more complicated method is called degaussing. During this process, a strong magnetic field neutralizes the data, making it unrecoverable.

Degaussing only works on hard disc drives and tapes. But this method is permanent, and once applied the device can never be used again. Also, you cannot use degaussing on solid-state drives.

While this method is effective, it can be harmful to the environment. It also makes recycling assets impossible.

4. How Does Data Erasure Sanitize Data?

Data erasure uses software to overwrite data on a storage device. Overwriting the data makes it unrecoverable.

Data erasure must verify that the process was successful. It then provides a certificate and writes it to the device.

Data erasure is the most secure form of data sanitization. That’s because it not only erases the data but also has a validation process to ensure the sanitization was successful. But it takes a lot more time than the other data sanitization methods.

5. What Methods are Insufficient for Data Sanitization?

Several methods sound like they will sanitize your data but are in most cases not enough. These methods are:

  • Factory Reset: A factory reset occurs when you restore a device to factory settings, thereby removing all user data. This method is common on many tablets and mobile devices. Not all forms of factory resetting use data sanitization, so check with the manufacturer before using it.
  • Data Deletion: This is the process most people use when trying to “sanitize” data. They simply delete the file or folder and then empty the recycle bin. But using this method leaves the data hidden on the storage device and is recoverable.
  • Reformatting: Reformatting eliminates contents on a disc drive. But the reformatting method leaves the data on the storage device in a way that’s easy to recover.
  • Data Clearing: This is a security method that prevents users from retrieving any data once it’s cleared. But it is still possible to recover this data using advanced tools.

Additionally, any method that sounds like data sanitization but fails to verify that the data was destroyed is not enough. This can include things like data destruction, data wiping, and file shredding.

Are You Ready to Sanitize Your Old Data?

Are you ready to undergo the process of data sanitization? Cleanlites can help! Contact us today for a quote on our confidential data destruction services!