Securing The Future.

Hard Drive Shredding: How To Destroy Your Digital Data

GDPR requires all businesses to take responsibility for the personal data they collect, store and use, and this includes the secure destruction of old records. At a time when a large proportion of data was kept in paper-based systems, document shredding was a simple answer to this requirement, but as records are increasingly stored electronically, secure data destruction becomes more complex.

What Is Media Destruction?

Media destruction is the complete and permanent elimination of all data from electronic media, using electronic or physical means of destruction. Electronic media includes hard disk drives, USB storage devices, solid-state memory cards, portable disk drives, floppy disks and data storage tapes. There are four ways of destroying media electronically:
  1. Data Deletion

Strictly speaking, this is not a data destruction process because it is not permanent or irreversible – it merely removes the pointers to the file location on a system. While data deletion protects data from opportunistic or inexperienced thieves, it can be easily found by hackers or persons with a greater knowledge of computer storage systems.
  1. Data Crypto Shredding

This method only works for encrypted data. Data crypto shredding doesn’t remove or alter the data but removes the encryption keys that allow the data to decrypt into a readable format. Data crypto shredding is required as computing power grows because this weakens encryption strength.
  1. Data Degaussing

Data degaussing (also known as data erasing, or wiping) only works on data storage devices that store data magnetically: solid state drives (SSD) don’t store data in this way so are unsuitable for degaussing. The degaussing process weakens the magnetic field in the storage device, which wipes all data from it. However, this is not a 100% guaranteed safe way of protecting data (see: Is Your Hard Drive A Soft Target?)
  1. Anonymisation

This process involves altering the data so that it can no longer be identified. An example of anonymisation is tokenisation, where the data is converted into random, meaningless characters. Tokenisation is used by the healthcare sector to protect patients’ personal data and medical records, and in the payment card industry to protect cardholder data. The advantage of electronic destruction is that it doesn’t physically destroy the storage device and in most cases, programs and systems remain unaffected and can continue to be used. Data can also be physically destroyed by drilling, crushing, melting, burning or shredding the hard drive.

What Is The Best Data Destruction Process?

This depends on whether the device that is storing the computer is still in use. If it is, then an electronic method may be the best option. This will mean that any installed programs will be left intact. A further security measure might be to exchange the old hard drive for a new one and destroy the old drive. In this instance, programs will need to be reinstalled, which can be a lengthy process. Exchanging the hard drive is common practice if the device is being given or sold to another user. However, if the device is at the end of its life it will need to be recycled in a manner that complies with the Waste, Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE 2013). For exchanged hard drives and end-of-life devices, hard drive shredding is the most secure and environmentally friendly data destruction process. Once the data storage components have been shredded into minute particles, the data is completely and permanently irretrievable and the material from the components can be recycled.

How Does Data Destruction Work?

SECURETECH is a secure IT and media destruction service from Avena Group that combines WEEE waste recycling compliance with GDPR-compliant hard drive data destruction. To help you comply with WEEE waste regulations, we recycle a wide range of office items and equipment, including
  • portable hard drives, disks, DVDs and CDs
  • PCs and laptops
  • laser and inkjet printers
  • servers and photocopiers
  • network switches, hubs, routers and firewalls
  • other miscellaneous IT equipment
Our BS7858 security-vetted customer service representatives collect equipment from your location in our fleet of secure transport vehicles. These are fitted with CCTV security cameras and 24/7 real-time satellite tracking. On arrival at our secure processing centre, equipment is dismantled to separate out all recyclable material and any data storage components are shredded. On completion of the destruction process, we issue all the documentation you require for an audit trail. SECURETECH is part of the PROTECTR portfolio of secure destruction services that also includes:
  • SECURALL Secure Document Recycling – a confidential and comprehensive paper shredding and recycling service specifically tailored to individual customer needs
  • SECUREBRAND Secure Clothing Recycling – a tailored collection, destruction and recycling service for uniforms, workwear and textiles
For further information on our full range of services and how you can use these to protect your business, your reputation and your customers, call Avena Group on 0845 5219 892 or via our website.

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