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When Things Go Wrong: How Data Destruction Can Fail and What Happens to Your Data When It Does

Data breaches are a serious issue, especially since modern businesses are highly data-driven. This data may not always be extremely confidential or private but it is still valuable. IT experts dealing in data security are a hot commodity in the market as computers have become all pervasive and data is primarily stored and transmitted between computers. 

The security of IT systems is extremely critical, as the data can become vulnerable if it is not protected and safety protocols are not implemented. An important job for the experts is safeguarding IT ecosystems and making them resistant to hacking attempts, which are only becoming more frequent and more sophisticated.

But My Data is Safe Online!

Assume that your organization has taken all the necessary precautions to safeguard their data: hired the best professionals, used the best available techniques and protocols, implemented a military-grade firewall, and kept the data accessible under limited and supervised conditions. Is it possible that this data is still vulnerable? Well, it is, but not in the way that you might be thinking.

Let us also assume that the data was able to withstand every type of attack while online. The professionals you hired did a great job, and the firewalls stood up against vicious attacks, there were no exploitable bugs, and your server was never accessed by anyone you did not want to, even if they belonged to your organization. Is it still possible that this data can leak?

Data Can Leak Offline Too

Unfortunately, your data is still vulnerable to a breach from the improper disposal of the drives it is on, which can happen when the drives need to be replaced or have become obsolete. Such data breaches have happened before. Idaho Power Co. ‘wiped’ the data and sold the drives on eBay, only to realize that the residual data was very much present in the drives, and the data contained hundreds of thousands of confidential documents, employee names, and their SSNs, and confidential memos to the CEO. 

Data leaks are serious security threats, and ignoring the possibility of a breach through improper disposal of drives and other storage devices is risky and unwise, especially since you’ll have to deal with the FTC if personally, identifiable information is in the leak.

Data Breaches are Expensive

The FTC enforces the Disposal Rule, which holds organizations liable for up to $1,000 for every affected consumer in a data breach. If even a single gigabyte worth of this data is breached, the penalties could potentially be in the millions. This is a big challenge, especially for SMEs. 

They have to spend millions on setting up and maintaining the IT security infrastructure and, if they dispose of their drives and storage devices improperly, which may lead to a breach, they may have to spend millions more. Most SMEs cannot afford this, and, since the probability is low, they don’t take appropriate measures for such an eventuality.

Data Breaches Violate Privacy

The data that may leak can contain valuable information, information that can be used to identify someone and potentially cause damage to such a person. We are all aware of big data dumps that happen on the dark web and contain email addresses and other details of millions of users that sell for a few thousand dollars. Although they are usually a result of hacking and unauthorized access to databases, the same thing can happen with data found because of improper disposal. 

Any data that the owner does not permit to be used without consent is private and confidential data, and access to this data can cause problems for its owner. The problems can range from unwanted marketing calls to identity theft.

Data Breaches Cause Loss of Trust and Reputation

Data breaches also cause a loss of trust and reputation. Clients whose data has been leaked may lose the trust that they have in your organization, as it is possible that they correlate safeguarding of their data with the overall standards of the organization. Loss of trust from multiple clients leads to a loss of reputation. Other organizations would be wary of working with your organization. 

A PR nightmare ensues, which is another costly affair in itself, requiring careful maneuvering and vigilance in terms of the message that is being communicated about the organization’s efforts to minimize the impact of the breach. Multiple stakeholders become involved, each with their own concerns and complaints.

Data Breaches Expose You to Litigation

With the presence of multiple stakeholders comes the possibility of being served multiple legal notices. Anyone who is directly affected by the data leak and suffers losses can sue for damages. Legal battles are expensive and time-consuming. All organizations are not big enough, especially in the case of SMEs, to be able to afford exorbitant legal fees or pay off the settlement amounts.

Data Sanitization is a Serious Business

The bottom line is that data leaks can have far reaching and devastating effects on an organization. The costs involved, both hidden and obvious, are high. Data is valuable and, as a responsible organization, it is incumbent upon you to ensure that your data is secure even after that data or the drive that stores it is no longer of use. 

The scope of data management does not end with deleting and overwriting the previous data on the drive. It ends when the drives are cleaned so thoroughly that extracting residual data becomes almost impossible, even with the application of laboratory-grade techniques and equipment. 

Following well-established and widely followed data sanitization standards is most definitely the way to go, and compliance with these standards can be achieved rather easily through Adonis.

Adonis: NIST SP 800-88 Compliant Data Sanitization Professionals

Adonis are professionals in data sanitization and hardware disposal. We undertake data sanitization needs primarily for SMEs and are compliant with the most widely accepted standard for data sanitization, which is the NIST SP 800-88. 

Being compliant with this standard ensures that an organization has done their best in order to wipe clean their drives and other storage devices and the recovery of data is not possible under most circumstances. This standard is accepted across industries and companies, and following its guidelines is a sure way to ensure peace of mind and permanence of data destruction. 

Drives or storage devices which have been sanitized using the NIST SP 800-88 standard can be sold in the secondary market as well, after all, labels and identifying information from the hardware have been removed. Adonis provides comprehensive services for hardware management, which includes both sanitization and disposal/resale of the hardware. The entire process is transparent and traceable so that clients can keep track of every piece of the hardware that they sent to be processed. 

Adonis also sells the hardware and kicks the proceeds of the sale back to its clients, which they can use for purchase of new hardware. Get in touch with Adonis for professional, NIST- compliant data destruction and hardware disposal and minimize your risk of potential data leaks through improper data sanitization.