Data Erasure Solutions for Government Agencies

Dec 16, 2022 Blog Article

Government organizations often collect a tremendous amount of data. While agencies may need to hold most of this data for some time, there comes a point when data erasure will be necessary. Let’s look at some of the key types of data that agencies may need to get rid of in the interest of data security and fiscal responsibility—and several scenarios your government agency may need to consider.

David Stegon David is a technology-focused writer with more than 20 years of professional experience. A former reporter, David has written on a wide range of topics. As senior content writer at Blancco, he supports the company’s thought leadership, content marketing, and social media efforts.

Why Keep Data Secure?

While much of government data is a matter of public record, data classification and retention schedules aim to direct public sector organizations on when certain types of data are no longer needed. In reality, keeping such data opens the door to risk, not only for the agency. but for the citizens and businesses served by that agency. Whether at the federal, state, local, or educational level, the consequences of leaked data can be devastating.

The Records at Risk

  • Sensitive or classified information regarding public infrastructure, physical, or digital security
  • Personal details of employees and the general public
  • Personally identifiable information regarding healthcare, finances, and other confidential data
  • Information about minors, including school and educational records
  • Anything sensitive or regulated that’s not considered public or open data

Even for those items considered open or public data, there’s the issue of unnecessarily storing such data for longer than needed. Not only does this have consequences for data storage needs and associated costs and inefficiencies, it also leads to greater energy consumption and environmental harm. The items that can cause data bloat can include:

  • Contracts, proposals, and statements of work
  • Meeting minutes and transcripts
  • Internal directives
  • Internal and external communication
  • and much more…

Why Security’s Important

Even if the data has reached the end of its lifecycle, leaving it unsecured is highly risky. Unauthorized access can lead to: 

  • Loss of state secrets 
    Information is classified for a reason. Revealing sensitive data to other states or non-cleared personnel can be incredibly damaging. 
  • Privacy breaches 
    Getting hold of personal information can lead to identity theft, legal action, and a damaged reputation for the agency. 
  • Information manipulation 
    Fake and misleading data is more and more prevalent in the modern world, and it’s much easier to pass off when it’s based on a legitimate source. 
  • Service breakdown 
    Tainted, missing, or compromised data can result in system-wide shutdowns or reduced services, leaving your agency unable to function. 
  • Compliance 
    Most government agencies are strictly regulated and must conform with data security regulations or risk costly investigations.

Government Data at Risk

In addition to causing data risk and increased costs in active environments, government data is often left vulnerable when it’s not sanitized from end-of-life data storage assets. Here are just a few examples:

  • Government Auctions 
    Some agencies sell off old computer hardware when it’s no longer needed, inadvertently leaving data remnants exposed to the buyer. 
  • Unnecessary Archival 
    Archival of data is a key part of the data lifecycle, especially for government agencies. However, once the data is archived, it’s often forgotten and can be accessible for longer than intended. 
  • Improper Disposal 
    A lot of data is simply disposed of incorrectly. Putting a hard drive in the trash (or, more realistically, sending it out for disposal, recycling, or resale—or even returning to the OEM or service provider at the end of a lease without sanitization) is risky for private organizations. For government bodies exposed to constant threats, it’s downright dangerous. 
  • Employee Carelessness 
    Data security is at risk when an employee leaves their position in the agency and proper erasure protocols are overlooked.

When Deleted Doesn’t Mean Gone

Many people assume that when they delete a file, it’s gone forever. But with forensic data recovery, improperly destroyed data can easily be retrieved. 

  • After deleting a file or folder – Your operating system will only remove the address to where the data is stored, and not the data itself. Files can be recovered by reading directly from the disk. 
  • After degaussing the hard drive – Subjecting a hard drive to powerful magnetic forces will clear the data to a degree, but it can sometimes be reconstructed by analyzing leftover weak magnetic fields. Also, it doesn’t work on modern solid-state drives (SSDs)
  • After shredding an SSD – Just as a shredded document can be reconstructed, memory chips from a shredded SSD that are intact could allow data to be recovered. As data storage becomes more compact, shred size must also shrink.

Unnecessary Physical Destruction

Done correctly, physical destruction is a legitimate way to protect government data from being leaked directly from retired drives and devices. However, in a sector held accountable for its use of tax funds, such destruction of usable IT equipment comes at a huge cost.

  • Destruction costs.
    Whether through shredding, degaussing, incinerating or other destruction method, there is a cost for that service.
  • Replacement costs.
    For every device or drive that is destroyed, new equipment is needed.
  • Environment costs.
    A majority of computer equipment and components is not recyclable, and e-waste continues to head to landfill in record amounts. What’s more, the need for new replacement materials means additional mining and manufacturing processes are needed.
  • Chain of custody risk.
    Anytime data leaves a protected environment, it is vulnerable. Both internal and external threats must be carefully guarded against once equipment is decommissioned. In one case for a local government, hard drives destined for destruction went missing, causing that government to reevaluate its device retirement processes for better security.

Why Do Agencies Choose Blancco Data Erasure for Government Data?

Blancco data erasure has been proven over and over again to render data unrecoverable and compliant with stringent government data protection requirements.

  • It’s cost-effective.
    Blancco doesn’t require expensive machinery and it allows you to reuse hard drives, leaving agencies with more room in their budget. 
  • It’s eco-friendly
    Blancco removes the need to degauss or shred the hard drive, which would put a burden on our landfills and potentially contaminate the ground with heavy metals. 
  • It’s accountable.
    Blancco helps agencies subject to strict reporting requirements by providing a clear audit trail. 
  • It’s secure.
    Both our software and our internal development processes are tested for industry standard best practices.
    • Our ISO9001 certification provides proof that Blancco consistently offers products and services that meet stringent regulatory requirements and satisfy customer demands.
    • Various evaluations, such as tests to achieve Common Criteria Certification, provides government users with a level of assurance that our products are well engineered and do what we say it will do.
  • It’s compliant.
    Blancco allows you to comply with several government data erasure standards or guidelines that other technologies don’t, including:

Blancco data erasure solutions carry 13+ global certifications attesting to the effectiveness of our solution.

Let us help your government agency prove compliance with your IT security policies and the government and industry requirements that affect your organization.

Fulfill Government Data Security & Compliance Requirements with Certified Data Erasure Software  

Request a no-obligation trial of our software today.

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