Should You Invest in Data Destruction Software?

May 18, 2023 Technical Article

You know it’s time to destroy your excess, outdated, trivial and end-of-life data. So which data destruction method you should invest in?

You could choose physical destruction, cryptographic erasure, data erasure software or other common data destruction methods.

But which methods actually work for destroying data permanently and completely?

What is Data Destruction?

Blancco defines data destruction as the process of destroying data from digital storage media so that it is completely unreadable and cannot be accessed or used for unauthorized purposes.

Data destruction is often used interchangeably with the term data sanitization; however, data destruction differs from data sanitization in at least one critical way. Data destruction does not verify that any residual data is beyond recovery.

Data Destruction vs. Data Sanitization

Maybe we should take a step back.

Is data destruction actually what your business needs, or is data sanitization what you’re really looking for?

If verification is not part of the destruction process, you may end up being non-compliant with data privacy and protection regulations. You could also face data breach fines and liability if information is left behind on your devices.

Blancco defines data sanitization as the process of deliberately, permanently and irreversibly removing or destroying the data stored on a memory device to make it unrecoverable⁠—a definition in line with Gartner’s Hype Cycles.

A device that has been sanitized has no usable residual data, and even with the assistance of advanced forensic tools, the data will not ever be recovered. 

According to both Gartner and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, there are three methods to go beyond data destruction and ensure that your data is protected against unauthorized access:

All three methods can effectively sanitize your data, and each has their pros and cons.

A Secure Investment: Data Erasure Software

There are several data erasure software products on the market. When evaluating your options, choose a solution that:

  1. Allows for selection of a specific standard, based on your industry and organization’s unique needs.
  2. Verifies the overwriting methodology has been successful in removing data across the entire device (file erasure software can also target data on a drive or device, leaving surrounding data intact).
  3. Produces a tamper-proof certificate containing information that the erasure has been successful and written to all sectors of the device, along with data about the device and standard used.

These three qualifications MUST be met to ensure audit-ready, compliant, and secure data sanitization. While the investment might tempt you to look for methods that seem more economical, they will only increase your security and compliance risk.

For instance, be especially aware of free data wiping software, file deletion methods, reformatting, or other processes that are associated with destroying data, but that instead, are proven to leave data behind.

Data destruction software without erasure verification and certification just won’t work in today’s threat-saturated environment. So, here are some things to look for when purchasing erasure solutions instead.

Considerations When Purchasing a Data Sanitization Solution

Additionally, you may want to consider a vendor’s data erasure certifications and industry recommendations. Certifications are often based on rigorous security testing that validate software’s effectiveness.

The ability to integrate the data erasure software within your existing ERP/WMS tools will also be important.

Automation is another important consideration when needing to sanitize data at scale. Automation will yield both cost and time savings, as well as decrease error rates and risk, making your investment in data erasure software one that can return its value to you several times over. It can also trigger data erasure at the point of decommissioning, increasing your data security by removing data at the earliest possible moment before moving hardware from one point to another.

Whether you’re decommissioning devices for reuse, reselling or donating them, or otherwise wanting to ensure that old data is forever gone, be sure to do it right.

You’ll get the greatest return on your investment when you go beyond mere data destruction and make sure your drives and devices are sanitized completely.

See how our data erasure solutions can help your organization go beyond simple data destruction.

Contact Blancco for your free data erasure trial for enterprise organizations.

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Originally published August 2017. Updated May 2023.