As a relatively new technology an overwhelming majority of people, businesses and organizations do not understand the importance of security in digital data storage. The average hard drive stores thousands of files written on it and many of them contain sensitive information. Over the course of a hard drives lifetime the likelihood for recoverable remnants of sensitive information left on a hard drive at its end of life is very high. To see this just try out KillDisk's File Browser on your system drive. You'll be surprised to see what you find!

The modern storage environment is rapidly evolving. Data may pass through multiple organizations, systems, and storage media in its lifetime. The pervasive nature of data propagation is only increasing as the Internet and data storage systems move towards a distributed cloud-based architecture. As a result, more parties than ever are responsible for effectively sanitizing media and the potential is substantial for sensitive data to be collected and retained on the media. This responsibility is not limited to those organizations that are the originators or final resting places of sensitive data, but also intermediaries who transiently store or process the information along the way. The efficient and effective management of information from inception through disposition is the responsibility of all those who have handled the data.

The application of sophisticated access controls and encryption help reduce the likelihood that an attacker can gain direct access to sensitive information. As a result, parties attempting to obtain sensitive information may seek to focus their efforts on alternative access means such as retrieving residual data on media that has left an organization without sufficient sanitization effort having been applied. Consequently, the application of effective sanitization techniques and tracking of storage media are critical aspects of ensuring that sensitive data is effectively protected by an organization against unauthorized disclosure. Protection of information is paramount. That information may be on paper, optical, electronic or magnetic media.

An organization may choose to dispose of media by charitable donation, internal or external transfer, or by recycling it in accordance with applicable laws and regulations if the media is obsolete or no longer usable. Even internal transfers require increased scrutiny, as legal and ethical obligations make it more important than ever to protect data such as Personally Identifiable Information (PII). No matter what the final intended destination of the media is, it is important that the organization ensure that no easily recoverable residual representation of the data is stored on the media after it has left the control of the organization or is no longer going to be protected at the confidentiality categorization of the data stored on the media.

Sanitization refers to a process that renders access to target data on the media infeasible for a given level of effort.


Additionally, try formatting a USB drive with files on it and browse it with KillDisk's File Browser as well. Data leakages are not limited to hard drives!