One of the biggest but still largely ignored data security risks is in the disposal of technological equipment. Physical record disposal has long been considered to be an important part of a company’s data protection processes. But while you can’t shred old computers, poor disposal of technological records can result in major security breaches, loss of confidential information, and lost privacy. Failing to heed security-related laws and regulations can result in costly fines or even imprisonment, and that all falls into effect when it comes to digital records and technology.
Disposing of Digital Files
The proper destruction of hard copy documents is only effective if the digital files associated with those documents are also destroyed properly. Simply deleting the files is not enough. Until that space has been written over, the possibility of recovering data still exists. Similar to shredding important paper documents, one way to ensure that your personal information is not easily accessed is by “shredding” of the individual files on the hard drive. There are a variety of software programs which can shred files, but it can be confusing to know which one is right for you.
Remember Your Hard Drive
The concept of deleting your files from your computer is more than a little misleading. After you hit delete, that file actually doesn’t really go any where. It’s still easily discoverable on your hard drive. Even if you empty your trash folder, those deleted files are still there, just out of sight in most cases. Deleting files from a hard drive only removes the “pointers” that make it easy for you to access the data. The actual data is still stored, and there are several fairly simple ways to access them. If a hacker gains remote access to your hard drive – a very common method for stealing private information – they can use simple file restoration programs to get it all back. This holds true for personal computers, workstations and even discarded equipment with hard drives that have been deleted.
So what can you do to ensure your data is truly gone when you’re done with it? Making deleted data practically inaccessible from hard drives on your computer or smartphone is not an impossible task. It just takes a few extra steps. For computers with information left on hard drives, you can use a wiping program that overwrites all of the unused data spaces on your hard disk where your deleted files used to be. This makes sure that anyone digging through your trash isn’t able to find what you don’t want to be found.
What About the Internet?
It’s also fairly well known that it’s nearly impossible to erase anything that is shared over the internet. Given the immense caching, or storage system that saves all content and previous versions, undertaken by major search engines like Google, digital content is preserved constantly, and the fact is that you have very little control over that. When you delete email messages (and empty your “Trash” folder), it may seem like there’s no way to get that data back, but that isn’t entirely true either.
In general, the disposing of technology that has been a container for sensitive information is to partner with a responsible document management service provider such as Happy Faces Records Management. The security and convenience of a document management partner protects your company from security violations and helps maintain security as a high priority. Call today to talk with our team.