It may be time to  destroy that hard drive

By Hellen Lubanga

We are living in a digital world. With the pandemic ushering in the rise of ‘work-from-home businesses and the rapid global spread of the Go Green Initiative across all industries,

Everything these days is on our devices, that is, our desktops, our laptops, or even our smartphones. What we tend to forget, however, is that whenever you save anything on your laptop or desktop, that data is permanently stored within a storage space known as the hard drive. And the thing about hard drive storage is that those files are never truly gone, even when we delete them. With a little effort, even files that were previously deleted can be restored.

This is why destroying the device’s hard drive is important, as choosing to hold onto the data on it only increases the risk of identity theft and data leaks, both of which can have devastating effects if the wrong person were to gain access to the private and confidential data stored.

Today we will look into the top 5 situations when destroying your hard drive should be considered.

 1. You are contractually obligated to destroy the hard drive.

This is more common in B2B transactions, where a company approaches document management software experts to upload their data onto a document management system by transferring all their existing data onto the new management software. Once all the data has been transferred, the hard drives that previously held the data are then meant to be destroyed to evade data leaks.

In such an instance, the company shifting to the document management system can give strict instructions that all hard drives from which data was extracted must be destroyed completely and proof of destruction be provided. This means the service provider is contractually obligated to destroy all data traces on the digital media before discarding the remnants legally and ethically.

2. The law outlines data protection and disposal procedures.

Every country has its own data protection, asset disposal, and digital media destruction laws that govern how companies manage data. In essence, these laws outline how companies are meant to handle personal identifiable information (PII) on computer hard drives or any other digital media.

These laws and regulations hold companies accountable in regards to how they handle consumer data. In the event of a security breach, a company stands to face heavy fines or even jail time if it is discovered that the breach is a result of negligence. One single infraction can not only bankrupt your business through the payment of fines and legal fees, but you also run the risk of losing the trust of your existing client base, thus making a comeback nearly impossible.

3. Your technology is obsolete.

With how fast technology shifts, it rarely comes as a surprise anymore when equipment becomes obsolete. A good example of this is seen with traditional PCs versus modern desktops or laptops.

Technological equipment evolves even when the data remains the same. This means that your old devices’ storage just does not cut it anymore and has to be abandoned, seeing that they cannot be sold or re-purposed. In such an instance, when data is moved from an old device to a new device, the old storage needs to be cleared out and destroyed to ensure the sensitive data is gone forever, even when the equipment is disposed of.

4. You are selling your device.

We’ve all been there where the need for an upgrade of office devices is unavoidable. However, more often than not, you do not want your previous devices laying around, taking up the room despite not being in use. This is when the idea of selling your older devices comes into play.

Selling old devices is a good idea as it helps free up space and offset purchase costs. It is never a good idea to sell any device that previously held your company’s data before erasing the data on it. And as previously mentioned, simply deleting the data is not enough. One has to completely erase the data, preferably with the assistance of experts, to ensure the job is done well.

5. You deal with highly sensitive data.

Some industries deal with highly sensitive data, such as government offices, the medical field, security provision companies, and the like. If you own or are a part of an industry that manages such sensitive data, then proper disposal of your data should be a top priority on your list.

When a slight breach could become a matter of regional security, it is highly advised that you leave the disposal to experts. It is also important to note that you do not have to be a part of a security firm to hold sensitive information. Even employee and customer banking details are all that is needed by the wrong people to take advantage of a data leak for their own self-gain.