Is Data Destruction Required for Security Compliance?

No matter which industry you work in, chances are high that your company stores data that needs to remain private. While not always a legal requirement to stay in business, data destruction is an often-overlooked area of information security that can make a significant difference to your company. 

Whether you’re looking to step up your organization’s security or achieve a certain certification, addressing cybersecurity threats from decommissioned devices and hard drives is an essential part of any complete information security plan. 

Why Data Destruction Matters

Even without regulatory concerns, there are many reasons to implement proper data destruction. Perhaps the most obvious of these is to prevent your company information from becoming accessible outside of your organization, protecting the value of your data. 

The information you gather plays a critical role in your customer profiling, market research, business strategy, and a variety of other essential operations. This may also include protected data about methods, materials, and other operational concerns that provide businesses with the competitive advantage they rely on to stay ahead of others in their industry. From blueprints and schematics to transaction histories and databases, your wealth of digital information is probably your company’s number one asset and must be handled with care. 

Protecting Customer Data 

Depending on the industry in which your company operates, you may need to handle confidential information from your customers — as well as such data on employees or business partners. Healthcare, insurance, and banking are the most obvious examples of businesses that regularly handle private data, but virtually all companies take in at least some sensitive customer information. 

Basic data like phone numbers, addresses, and birthdays are all valued by customers, and compromising these degrades trust and puts your customers at an increased risk of fraud or doxxing. Similarly, credit card information from customers is often saved in online systems to expedite checkout and could have a severe negative impact on their well-being and faith in your organization if not properly protected.

How Does Data Destruction Work?

There are several common data destruction methods, each offering its own set of advantages. Which is best for you depends on the types of data you handle as well as the requirements of your industry. 

Hard Drive Destruction

Hard drive destruction entails physically rendering the hard drive unreadable by causing irreparable damage to it. A hammer, drill, or another tool may be sufficient, depending on the type of hardware you need to destroy.  While this method may not always guarantee absolute reliability, it can be very effective when coupled with a comprehensive data wipe. 

Electronic Recycling 

Electronic recycling is an effective approach to data destruction. This method involves removing all components of a device that store data and disposing of them in an environmentally responsible manner. The remaining materials are then recycled according to industry standards, ensuring the secure elimination of data-bearing elements.

IT Asset Disposal

IT asset disposition, also known as ITAD, is another comprehensive data destruction method that encompasses the thorough wiping and destruction of all data-bearing components before their safe and secure disposal. ITAD incorporates various processes such as data shredding, data sanitization, and hard drive destruction. 

Certified professionals undertake the ITAD process to guarantee that the data remains inaccessible and unrecoverable by any party. ITAD is critical for organizations of all sizes as it addresses multiple aspects, including data protection, environmental impact reduction, and compliance with data privacy regulations.

Data Center Decommissioning

Data center decommissioning is the most expansive type of data destruction. Rather than simply destroying specific pieces of equipment, this method involves the elimination of all data-bearing components within an entire data center. This includes servers, storage devices, networking equipment, and any other relevant elements. Depending on the type of data you handle and how you store it, this may be required to remain compliant. 

Data Privacy and Compliance

There are a number of laws on the local, state, and federal levels that require organizations to protect the information they handle. Industry-specific regulations, such as HIPAA, combine with general privacy laws, all of which must be followed at all times. Maintaining regulatory compliance is critical to licensing and managing your business. 

Failing to meet these requirements at any stage of your data handling process can put your company at risk. Losing licenses or permits can be challenging, and fines resulting from breaches of data privacy laws can be crippling. Running afoul of data protection laws also places your company in bad standing with customers, making it harder to secure clients in the future. 

Another situation in which you may be required to have a data destruction policy in place is if your company is trying to get R2 certified. Current R2v3 guidelines have strict information protection requirements. This often entails primary measures like secure data governance, but truly comprehensive information security requires data shredding. 

First America

First America Metal Corporation is an R2v3-certified leader in ITAD, electronic recycling, data destruction, and nonferrous metal recycling services. We offer a wide range of recycling solutions designed to meet our clients’ unique needs in a safe and eco-friendly manner. 

We specialize in secure, innovative electronics recycling services for businesses that need to safely dispose of electronic scrap, high-temperature alloys, and nonferrous scrap. Our level of expertise, unparalleled customer service, and aggressive pricing make First America the leading option for almost any recycling need.

Need your metal recycling or want to have your company’s electronics safely and sustainably decommissioned? Learn more and get in touch with us at firstamerica.com.

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