Data refers to information that is translated and then stored in a computing device to make it efficient and processing-ready. Data generally canopy an array of facts and figures – be it employee credentials or an organisation’s financial details. That’s precisely why data is vital, and something that requires comprehensive protection throughout its lifespan.
Should you need to wipe crucial data, you must do it diligently and be as careful as you were while creating and protecting the same data.
It refers to the process of logically erasing data from a particular read/write medium so that it eventually becomes unreadable. However, data wiping shouldn’t be confused with data deletion or removal. Instead, the process serves to overwrite any data on a hard drive to make it undecipherable.
Data wiping is either carried out by connecting a bulk-wiping device to a storage medium or booting the PC from a network (or CD). While the former is external, the latter is an internal procedure.
Besides the obvious benefit of securing private data (both personal and business), data wiping allows you to easily reuse the hard drive. It is a non-destructive and cost-effective solution (you don’t need to buy a hard drive all over again) that neither leads to data pilferage (leakage) nor a loss in storage capacity.
Think about data wiping this way – You have used extra salt in your dish, and now, it doesn’t please your palate. You don’t want to bin the dish, considering you had made it with great care. What do you do? You use some starch (read data wiping) to balance the salt (the old data), and in the process, get to keep what you had cooked (your hard drive).
Data wiping cannot entail a cookie-cutter approach. It would help if you chose a type, depending on what you want. That being said, the more frequently-used types include the secure erase, one-pass overwrite, and the three- and seven-pass overwrite.
There is a set procedure to sanitising a hard drive. To understand that, you should first know how a hard drive is written:
Data is written to drive-in binaries, i.e., in codes of 0 and 1. Understand that the entire writing process happens on a magnetic medium, capable of holding it for a particular period of time. That is precisely why data always leaves behind a trail, and can never be truly deleted.
It is the start and end inputs that are deleted, thereby allowing you to overwrite the data. You will have to think beyond the standard deletion if you want to wipe or sanitise the data.
The process entails wiping out trace data that are usually unaffected by first-time data deletion. So how do you do it? Before we delve into the step-by-step process, remember that:
Data wiping may require multiple ‘passes’ to obliterate all past codes. Make sure you are taking a backup of the data before proceeding with data wiping.
One of the more straightforward ways to carry out a data wipe is to buy hard drive wipe software that can conveniently run from any portable storage device or a CD.
Data wiping on an Android device is rather simple. Here’s how to proceed:
Step 1: To begin, switch off the device. Then, long-press on the volume (‘up’ and ‘down’) and power buttons simultaneously till the device turns back on.
Step 2: Once switched on, release the buttons. You will see a few options on the device screen. Use the ‘up’ and ‘down’ volume buttons to sift through them, and use the power button to choose ‘Recovery Mode’. Your device will switch to ‘Recovery Mode’.
Step 3: Next, press on the power and volume ‘up’ button to see the system recovery menu
Step 4: Scroll down; use the power button to choose the wipe data option that appears on the dropdown-list of commands
Step 5: Use the volume button to scroll down to ‘Yes’; press the power button to select
Various confidential data like bank account details, card details, membership and subscription details, and social media account passwords among other confidential documents are often stored in our devices and various web pages. More importantly, these are generally transferred to external devices like hard disks and pen drives. Thus, when we discard an old device we must make sure that such information is erased.
I have witnessed many enterprises resorting to ‘Bring your Own’ device agreements. This is typically the arrangement where the employees are allowed to work on their personal devices. While economically viable, the employers should make sure that data wiping is reported whenever the employee leaves the job so that confidential information can be protected.
E-waste management techniques involve donations, resale, and recycling. Before resorting to any such alternatives, ensure that you have erased all the personal data from your refurbished mobile because any person may use it injudiciously.
Remote data erasure or wiping techniques may also be resorted to. This ensures that all your data becomes irrecoverable when someone unauthorized tries to access it.
If you are not using the old device, you should get rid of the data in it. Sometimes we end up misplacing devices we don’t need. If one such device, which is loaded with your personal data, gets in the hands of a stranger, you may end up witnessing a ton of issues like identity theft or even blackmailing.
These days, hacking into devices has become very common. Ordinary people are more susceptible to such hacking. It has been reported that criminals often look for unprotected information. Thus, whenever there is a caution regarding any unauthorized login attempt, make sure you wipe the data from the device which has compromised your data’s privacy.
These are a few situations where data erasure or wiping becomes absolutely necessary. It is important to remember that manually deleting data is not adequate protection. This is because the data is often stored at multiple places and in multiple forms. Moreover, with the incrementing development of data wiping techniques, you can choose from various viable alternatives that are available in the market. These are based on numerous factors like proximity of use (local or remote), target data (online or offline) as well as the nature of the information.
With the advancement of technology, there also come certain hazards. We need to incorporate certain safety measures to the same. Thus, resorting to techniques like data wiping can be an essential precaution against it.
Data wiping is increasingly becoming a beneficial procedure considering the information overload that we deal with regularly in today’s day and age.