Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Best "Visual" Way to Destroy Data Storage?

Bill from a local recycling center is holding a piece of shredded hard drive. I had a visit with him and his company today. They offer NIST standards drive erasure, shredding, or both for hard drives that come inside the computers they receive. It is all up to the wish of the client delivering the equipment. Their facility is secure with video recording, metal detectors, guards, employee background checks, and restricted entry and egress. Clients can even watch their hard drive be shredded.

Sorry Bill. While your methods are effective, they just are not spectacular enough for me. Don't get me wrong. Bill and his company are great. But there is room for a "marketing" dimension. I have been asking around for a really effective method that would be "satisfying" to the client. In other words, I would let the client see the drive "done in" in their presence, and they would leave with the confidence that their scrap hard drive will never be read again.

You may ask why we need to go through all this effort? Statistically, the chances that information will be lifted from a hard drive are quite small. But information is power. And the PCI complaint standards are becoming stricter. Add in that the fact that many of your clients will be subject to HIPAA and SARBANES-OAXLY regulations. If any information is retrieved from a storage device that the client as "disposed of", the client is considered responsible. Clients also desire that "comfort" level from knowing their secrets are NOT sitting in a landfill somewhere, waiting to be picked up. That need for the client to be reassured that there is NO chance the information can be retrieved should be satisfied by you, the guardian of their data. And we all know that a visual is worth a 1000 words. Hence, the reason I am looking for a "visual" destruction for the client to witness.

So, what method to use? I have had suggestions of rifles, shotguns, C4 (yep, he is crazy that suggested that), hydraulic jacks... Even a garbage disposal. Hum, I think garbage disposals need water to work...that would get messy.

Please, comment and give me suggestions of your favorite way to "visually dispose" of data storage devices. Have fun with it. LOL


Ben Ahlquist said...

How about chemical scarring- take a chemical-resistant bag of sorts, put the drive in, then pour the chemicals in, and the client can confirm it melts or sufficiently mangles it enough to be unrecoverable.

Then there's free encryption programs- encrypt the drive and throw it away as-is.

Another idea- ask the drive recovery specialists what are the conditions in which they cannot restore data from a drive.

Anonymous said...

dump in to lava pit have nature recycle them free of charge

Ken Edwards said...


I am looking for "doable" destruction the client can see. If you can think of a way for me to get a portable lava pit cheaply that the client can put the hard drive in, by all means, lay it on me.