Updated: Jul 18, 2019

Overview

There are many ways to pulverize a drive so data cannot be recovered from it, but only one way to completely wipe one. Destroying hard drives, degaussing, deletion or another method are a reasonable way to ensure your data cannot be recovered. But you lose value when you destroy any IT asset. We recommend 3 steps to entirely wipe a hard drive.

3 Steps To Wipe A Drive With Software-Based Tools

Including Platter-Based, SSD & NVMe Drives

  1. Choose a specific overwrite pattern, based on your organization and industry's regulations. We recommend NIST 800-88.
  2. Select a ‘Full Verify' to examine the data on the drive and ensure the overwriting process was successful and that data was eradicated from the drive. We recommend sending drives to 3rd party data forensic labs to ensure the deletion software is performing properly.
  3. Save the tamper-proof audit report to a network, USB, DB or other location for proof of erasure. The selectable formats include PDF, CSV, TXT, XML and HTML. The audit report will also include hardware and diagnostic details of the system for your ERP system.

The hard drive has been completely sanitized of data once the erasure, verification and reporting are finished.

Data Sanitization - Completely Delete A Hard Drive

Data erasure is defined as a software-based method of overwriting the data that aims to completely destroy all electronic data residing on a hard disk drive or other digital media by using zeros and ones to overwrite data onto all sectors of the device. (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_erasure)

The software-based methods of erasing hard drives and SSDs should incorporate a compliant overwrite pattern, a full verification of the drive, an audit report, and a certified software tool that has been tested for malicious code. Organizations will go ‘Green' as the IT assets are reallocated internally or sold/donated to 3rd parties instead of being physically destroyed and components possibly reaching a landfill.

Data erasure software is one of the ways to achieve data sanitization, due to the validation process to ensure the data was successfully overwritten and the auditable reporting it produces. As an added benefit organizations save money and protect the environment because they're able to reuse or resale devices after secure erasure.

Reformatting A Drive Does Not Erase Data

A constant statement we hear is ‘We perform a low-level format and that is enough'. Though a Low Level Format (LLF) may securely erase data from each sector, it is implemented incorrectly on most drives and technological improvements have made drives unable to achieve LLF because of manufacturer settings. The largest issue with a Low Level Formatting is the lack of an audit trail that a drive has been securely overwritten. The lack of an audit trail is usually a violation of an internal Data Security Policy and leaves a question on whether data was sanitized.

Even other types of formats, like high level formats, will leave residual data on a drive that can be easily recovered with any data recovery tool. We recommend following the three steps above to reach proven data sanitization.

For more on how WhiteCanyon's WipeDrive solution can help you securely wipe your hard drives and SSDs, contact our Sales Team at 801.224.8900.