Businesses today handle a lot of information. Data collected from customers, research, and a multitude of other sources all contribute to the day-to-day functioning and operations of any organization. Much of this information is sensitive and needs to be protected from outsiders. While shredding private papers that are no longer needed has been common practice for a long time, many companies neglect to give data shredding the same attention.
What Is Data Shredding?
Data shredding is the practice of fully destroying information from any place where it is stored. In the past, paper files were the primary method of holding information, but computers have rendered manual filing obsolete in most cases. Much of the sensitive data that organizations are responsible for today is stored, shared, and accessed digitally. Because of this, data shredding needs to be an integral part of any organization’s IT asset disposition plan.
While many people assume that getting rid of digital files is easier than hard copies of that data, the opposite is usually true. Simply deleting data files from your computer isn’t sufficient, as knowledgeable hackers may still be able to recover deleted files. This is especially true if they are able to directly access your old hard drives, making discarded computers a notorious weak point in many businesses’ data protection plans.
Why Is Data Shredding Important?
There are three primary reasons why data shredding is essential to any business. Safeguarding proprietary information, customer trust, and regulatory compliance all play roles in how data is collected and destroyed.
Protecting Company Assets
The most obvious reason to prevent your company information from becoming accessible outside of your organization is to protect the value of the data you have. Companies work hard to collect and develop data. This information plays a critical role in 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 different amounts of 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 in any way 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.
Avoiding Legal Issues
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 other essential areas of 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. Monetary penalties aside, running afoul of data protection laws places your company in bad standing with regulators and customers alike, making it harder to secure clients in the future.
How Does Data Shredding Work?
When done correctly, data shredding can guarantee that your company’s information never falls into the wrong hands. There are a number of common methods for data shredding that can be effective. Some are simpler than others, but proper data destruction takes knowledge and effort.
One of the most popular methods of data shredding is also the most basic: hard drive destruction. To ensure that data stored on them can never be accessed, hard drives are sometimes completely destroyed using hammers, drills, and other tools that render the components completely useless. In this method, all data-storage components of your old devices — including hard drives, storage media, RAM, and other data-bearing parts — are identified and physically destroyed. This not only makes it impossible for hackers to access the shredded data, but it provides physical proof that the information has been shredded.
While this method can be simple and satisfying, there are two things to bear in mind before taking a hammer to your old computers. First: no matter how broken a computer looks, in order for this data shredding method to work, all information-storing parts of the computer must be fully destroyed. Partially wrecked hard drives can still be accessed by experienced hackers. The other thing to bear in mind is that simply smashing computers is not an efficient or sustainable way of getting rid of your old electronic devices, most of which are full of valuable recyclable materials and components.
Companies looking to address both of these concerns often turn to an experienced ITAD partner for support. Not only can this ensure that all data is shredded completely, but reused components from your old computers can be sold on the ITAD market or as e-scrap, offsetting the cost of replacing them with new devices.
ITAD, Data Shredding, and Beyond with FAMCe
FAMCe is a leading provider of data destruction services, offering a wide range of IT disposal 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 non-ferrous scrap. Our level of expertise, unparalleled customer service, and aggressive pricing make FAMCe the leading option for almost any recycling need.
Need your IT assets safely decommissioned? Learn more and get in touch with us at famce.net.