Identity theft, loss of sensitive information, and millions of dollars in damages are some consequences of criminals gaining access to your business’s data. ConsumerAffairs said consumer identity theft had soared 584%
in the last twenty years, which should put the threat in perspective.
Your business plays a vital role in protecting your customers’ information. And as part of a comprehensive security strategy, you must consider the value of hard drive destruction. Here’s everything you need to know about secure hard drive shredding and its advantages.
What is Hard Drive Destruction?
Before discussing hard drive destruction benefits, what is hard drive shredding
, and what does it consist of?
Hard drives have been in use in some form since the 1960s, making them one of the most popular options for businesses looking to store all manner of files. Even with the rise of the cloud, hard drives remain the dominant storage media
even in 2022.
Unfortunately, deleting your files isn’t enough to permanently delete the content of your hard drive. Digital media can still be retrieved by talented hackers afterward. So, beware if your strategy is throwing your older hard drives in the trash. Thieves dig through commercial waste all the time to secure devices like hard drives.
Proper hard drive destruction requires the total destruction of the hardware. And the only way to guarantee that a hard drive cannot be reassembled and the data accessed is to enlist a dedicated destruction service.
Secure hard drive destruction guarantees that all data stored on a hard drive is permanently inaccessible.
Importance of Secure Data Disposal
Data is the driving force of businesses everywhere. And we generate more data than ever. Projections estimate that by 2025, the world will generate 181 zettabytes of data
. For context, this is 181, followed by 21 zeros.
Naturally, the more data you have, the harder it is to track where it is and maintain data privacy. So the only solution for maintaining regulatory compliance is a regular schedule for disposing of non-essential data on your hard drive.
Some of the consequences of not having a strategy for secure data disposal include:
- Data breaches
- Financial fraud
- IP theft
- Brand damage
- Consumer lawsuits
- Regulatory penalties
The penalties for failing to erase data securely depend on which body is issuing the penalty. These can range from $7,500 to $20,000 per violation
. If violations include HIPAA violations, criminal penalties for business owners can apply.
So, what does this look like in practice?
Here are just some of the largest data breach fines/penalties
levied on major companies:
- Didi Global – $1.19 billion
- Amazon – $877 million
- Equifax – $575 million
Risks Associated with Improper Hard Drive Disposal
Improper handling of hard drives risks devastating consequences for any business. Firstly, it’s important to mention that there are no scaling penalties based on the size of companies. However, if you are found to have assisted a data breach because you didn’t dispose of a hard drive correctly, your penalty will be the same as a major multinational.
It’s that serious.
To put it into context, the average cost of a data breach in 2022
was $9.44 million in the United States. This would send most businesses into bankruptcy, but you still risk massive reputational damage even if you survive.
One study found that 81% of consumers
would stop engaging with a business online after a data breach. So, even if a business does survive the penalties, they’re likely to sustain irreparable damage that could put their futures at risk.
In short, hard drives are a potential backdoor into your business. Knowing hard drive destruction benefits and the importance of engaging with a professional destruction company is critical to preserving your organization’s future.
Benefits of Secure Hard Drive Destruction
Secure disposal of hard drives may seem like an additional burden upon your organization. Still, it can pay dividends in a world where cyberattacks are becoming ever more common.
While privacy laws have been in force for some time, many business owners dismissed them due to needing more enforcement. As we’ve seen from actions against prominent household names, these laws have teeth.
If you’re still on the fence about hard drive destruction benefits, here are some reasons why this investment delivers a profitable return.
Protecting Sensitive Information
Sensitive information could include customer information, employee data, trade secrets, and intellectual property. These data types are juicy targets for criminals looking to make a quick buck or hold your company to ransom.
The only way to protect sensitive information and prevent thieves from sifting through your trash is to destroy your hard drive permanently.
Ensuring Compliance with Data Protection Regulations
Data protection regulations apply to every business that holds customer or employee information, which covers about 99.99% of businesses in the country.
While most developed nations have their own regulations, most of them impose similar requirements upon your brand. So, if you can comply with, say, GDPR, the chances are you also largely comply with California’s CCPA.
Within the U.S., you also must account for industry-specific regulations. For example, healthcare businesses must fulfill the extra compliance requirements imposed by HIPAA. Breaching regulations like HIPAA can result in both civil and criminal penalties.
Safeguarding Your Customers’ Trust
Do your customers trust you in handling their data? The numbers say no.
According to one study, only 21% of consumers
trusted large, well-known companies with their data. Just because customers do business with you doesn’t mean they aren’t wary about how you are securing their data.
Investing in hard drive destruction shows your customers you are committed to protecting their interests.
Minimizing the Risk of Legal & Financial Consequences
The most significant risk to businesses is the financial consequences. You can sustain direct financial damage through regulatory penalties and indirect financial consequences via an exodus of customers following a data breach.
Additionally, these financial consequences can lead to legal problems. In extreme cases, CEOs and other senior business leaders can be prosecuted personally if they fail to comply.
Hard drive destruction is just one of the steps you can take to mitigate your risk profile.
Why You Should Avoid DIY Solutions
Some business owners believe hammering a hard drive is enough to destroy the data. While this may work 90% of the time, it’s not enough to guarantee the permanent inaccessibility of data.
Utilizing professionals is a worthwhile investment because it’s the only way to ensure your hard drive data is gone after leaving your facility. Here’s why opting for the DIY approach is a mistake.
Lack of Proper Equipment and Knowledge
Do you know how to destroy a hard drive? While the answer may seem obvious, destroying the physical shell doesn’t mean the data inside is inaccessible.
Criminals are surprisingly talented at reassembling a hard drive and removing the data. While it might take some time, it can be done. It’s why so many data breaches have started with dumpster diving outside of a corporate office building.
This is why professional firms use specialized tools and expertise to guarantee hard drive destruction 100% of the time.
Potential for Data Breaches and Non-Compliance
More than attempting to secure data disposal is required if you are investigated as part of a routine audit or in the aftermath of a data breach.
This is why a professional destruction company will always issue a certified Certificate of Destruction (COD) to prove that you have fulfilled your duties. It also shifts the burden to the destruction company if a data breach is traced back to a specific hard drive later.
Hidden Costs and Inefficiencies
DIY solutions are not free.
You must invest time and human resources into DIY shredding. These resources could be best used to carry out essential business duties, such as serving your customers.
Professional destruction companies simplify things by picking up your hard drives conveniently and securely, transporting them to their destruction facility, or destroying them on-site.
The Morgan Stanley Case and Lessons to Learn from It
Many would assume that household names would pay more attention to how they handle data because of their position in the spotlight. However, Morgan Stanley didn’t heed the warnings of improper data disposal.
In 2022, Morgan Stanley was forced to pay a $35 million fine
after a long-running investigation found that 15 million customers had their information exposed because they failed to dispose of their hard drives.
The investigation relates to the decommissioning of 500 servers in 2019, where the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission found that encryption software wasn’t enabled on hard drives until 2018. Even when enabled, the encryption protection only applied to data created after 2018, not older data.
While this incident may have gone unnoticed, the problem came to light when an IT consultant in Oklahoma contacted them about their data. The consultant had purchased a set of hard drives from an online auction only to find this sensitive data still contained within.
Although the story ended happily because of the IT consultant, if the hard drives had fallen into the hands of the wrong person, it could have resulted in disaster for millions of Americans.
This investigation is just one example of how easily critical customer and business information can be exposed because of improper hard drive destruction.
So, what are the primary takeaways of this story?
- Businesses must have an ongoing security strategy in place.
- Regular data audits and destruction schedules are crucial.
- Professional destruction is the only way to ensure your data doesn’t get into the wrong hands.
It’s easy to get started with professional destruction companies. Most offer on-site and off-site destruction services to fit your needs at affordable prices. However, now is the time if you’ve yet to consider professional hard drive disposal because every day that passes leaves your business exposed to the consequences of data breaches.
This guide shows that secure hard drive shredding is not an optional extra for your organization. Anything short of professional destruction could put your business at risk of financial penalties, legal action, loss of consumer trust, and even the end of your brand as you know it.
Even the smallest businesses have no exemption from data privacy and security laws in this country and overseas. But with this in mind, destruction services you can rely on don’t need to break the bank.
At Corodata, we go the extra mile to provide trustworthy destruction services to businesses large and small. So if you’re ready to preserve the integrity of your company, contact our team