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What is data erasure?

數據銷毀 (Data Erasure) 主要針對儲存資料嘅電子設備, 包括電腦入面嘅 hard disk, memory card, 電話等等可以儲存資料嘅設備, 當你需要處理呢啲設備, 例如壞咗或者唔再用要棄置嘅時候, 就有需要先將入邊嘅資料徹底銷毀. 如果係電腦做普通format hard disk 係唔可以將資料徹底刪除, 通過數據恢復軟件有機會將資料還原, 如果hard disk壞咗, 亦都冇辦法做到format.

所以我哋會用比較徹底嘅方法, 一般我哋會用消磁機去將hard disk嘅資料徹底銷毀, 原理係消磁機會產生強大磁場, 將hard disk上面嘅磁性信號破壞, 令到資料永久刪除. 好處係一般只需要一分鐘內完成, 但係完成後hard disk唔可以再用返, 適合比較舊嘅或者壞咗嘅hard disk. 除咗消磁, 另外可以用抹除嘅方法, 原理係喺hard disk每一個位置上面寫上覆寫資料, 將成個hard disk之前的資料覆蓋, 好處係做完之後過hard disk可以重用, 但就比較花時間, 一般會適合想重用返個hard disk嘅用家. 另外亦都可以透過物理破壞, 即係整爛個hard disk去銷毀data, 但一般都建議做咗消磁處理先, 因為理論上data仲係碟面上面, 如果冇消磁都有可能讀到好少部分嘅資料出嚟, 雖然機會唔大.

如果係電話, 通常透過回復原廠設定就可以將資料銷毀, 因為好多電話本身有進行加密, 回復原廠設定後, 加密嘅資料會被刪除, 所以一般都可以將資料徹底銷毀, 如果唔放心或者部機開唔著就要進行物理破壞, 要拆開部機將入面粒memory chip 整爛.

所有裝置都有唔同嘅方法去徹底銷毀數據, 有需要可以同我諮詢.

What is data recovery

數據恢復 (Data Recovery)簡單嚟講, 就係將你壞咗嘅裝置入面的資料恢復, 或者將你唔見咗或者刪除咗嘅資料恢復. 譬如你部電腦壞咗, 外置hard disk 或者 USB 手指壞咗, 將入邊啲資料恢復出嚟. 處理方法有好多種, 主要睇返情況而定, 有時電腦壞咗, 資料未必有問題, 因為資料係儲存喺hard disk 或者 SSD入面, 如果好彩hard disk 或者 SSD冇壞, 咁直接喺第二部機讀返出嚟就得. 如果hard disk有問題, 咁就要睇返屬於乜情況, 通常磁頭問題比較常見, hard disk入面會有磁頭讀寫資料, 如果磁頭出咗問題, 好多時過hard disk會有怪聲, 呢啲情況就要即刻斷電, 因為如果繼續通電, 有可能令到入面隻碟嚴重刮花, 咁就有可能做唔到data出嚟. 處理方法係要換過好嘅磁頭入去, 而換嘅過程係需要喺無塵環境進行, 因為如果有塵喺hard disk入面, 就有可能導致碟面刮花. 另外, 換入去嘅詞頭都需要同原本個磁頭一樣先可以, 有時hard disk 就算 model 一樣, 磁頭都可能唔一樣. 除咗磁頭問題, 有時你可以讀到入面啲資料, 但係好慢, 或者開唔到, 咁就可能係個hard disk有bad sectors, 簡單嚟講即係hard disk有啲位置壞咗, 當電腦嘗試讀呢啲位置, 因為有問題而會好慢或者hang機, 呢啲情況我哋可以用工具將冇問題嘅資料讀出嚟, 而係有問題地方嘅資料有可能會冇左, 似乎情況而定.

如果USB手指壞咗, 首先要睇下係唔係手指入面粒chip爛咗, 如果爛咗就冇辦法處理, 其他常見問題包括插入電腦後問你要唔要格式化, 呢啲情況一般係分區出咗問題, 用專業數據恢復軟件好多時都可以將資料恢復, 但如果插入電腦後冇反應, 就要嘗試用儀器直接讀取memory chip, 睇下可唔可以攞返資料.

如果係唔小心刪除左資料, 刪除完之後冇再save其他新資料落去, 咁都有好大機會恢復到出嚟, 但係如果刪除咗之後, 有放過好多資料入去, 或者繼續用咗好耐, 咁機會就比較細, 因為刪除左資料後, 其實資料仲喺hard disk入面, 電腦係將資料嘅位置信息刪除, 開放返個位置放心資料入去, 所以如果有新資料放咗喺同一個位置, 咁刪除咗嘅資料就會俾覆蓋, 做唔返出嚟.

呢啲係比較想見嘅情況, 如果有其他問題歡迎致電查詢.

Destroy Drives Using A Hard Drive Crusher

The advantages of using a Hard Drive Crusher

Computers are an integral part of modern life and we all know the wide range of ways in which we use them. The problem comes when the computer reaches the end of it’s useful life and it is time to dispose of it or send it for professional recycling.  Packed on your Hard Drive inside your computer or laptop is an abundance of data, much, if not all of which is information you would not like others to have access to.  It is essential therefore that you have procedures for the secure destruction of data prior to computer disposal.

There are a number of ways to destroy a hard drive including erasing, shredding and wiping, but for the purposes of this article we shall consider the use of a Hard Drive Crusher.

What is a Hard Drive and why use a Hard Drive Crusher?

A Hard drive (sometimes abbreviated as HD or HDD) is a non-volatile memory hardware device which permanently stores and retrieves information.There are many variations, but their sizes are generally 3.5″ and 2.5″ for desktop and laptop computers respectively. A hard drive consists of one or more platters to which data is written using a magnetic head, all inside of an air-sealed casing. Hard Drives may be either internal or external but both types can be used to store just about any kind of data be it music, pictures, text, software programmes etc. This data is written to the part of the Hard Drive called the Platter.

It is the Platter that is the target for the Hard Drive Crusher to physically damage beyond repair such that it cannot be put back into a computer and still accessed.  A solution such as the Crunch 250 is a perfect example of a specially designed machine capable of destroying a hard drive in just 9 seconds.  A desktop, office friendly machine such as this is a good solution for processing any number of Hard Drives as it is easy to operate and quick to use.  You can easily crush 250 Hard drives in an hour with a Crunch 250.  It can be installed in any office, and by being used “in-house” it negates the need to send your hard drives off site and entrust your precious data to third parties.  It also provides an ongoing solution so that you don’t have to gather up large numbers of drives and store them while you wait for a mobile crushing service truck to make an appointment.

Is there anything better than a Hard Drive Crusher?

While for some industries simply crushing the hard drive is sufficient evidence that their data is no longer accessible to prying eyes, for some data users an even more robust solution is required.

VS Security Products manufacture a range of degaussers which can be used to remove user data and servo control data from hard drives before they are processed by the Hard Drive Crusher.  Manual degaussers such as the V660 HDD Evo allow you to erase up to 20 hard drives every hour whilst an automatic degausser such as the DataGone can erase up to 200 every hour.

Whether your business requires just crushing, or prefers to degauss and crush, VS Security Products offers an extra tool for ultimate assurance that your responsibilities with regards to data destruction have been fully met and that is its unique Data Destruction Auditor system.  This is a program which can be linked to your Hard Drive Crusher and it will provide you with recorded and printable evidence of all the media you have destroyed.

In Summary:

A Hard Drive Crusher is a very effective, simple and quick method to destroy hard drives without them leaving your premises.  It may be enough for your needs on its own or it can be joined with a degausser and a Data Destruction Auditor system to provide true peace of mind for the security conscious computer user.

Hard Drive Destruction Methods

What is the best way to set about Hard Drive Destruction?

Computers are an integral part of life today. We use them at home, at school and at work.  We store everything that we hold dear on them such as our photos, our contact lists, our course work, our bank details and our company secrets. This information is all stored on the Hard Drive and the question is how do you protect your data when the time comes for you to change from one computer to another?

The Hard Drive can be removed from the computer and destroyed in a number of ways. The key point is to make sure that after you have finished with it the data which is stored on the magnetic Platter inside the drive is not accessible to prying eyes. 

The method of destruction that you choose may be to some extent dependant on who you are and how secret your data actually is. Your holiday snaps are somewhat less interesting to the bad guys than the medical records of A. N. Celebrity for example!

Shred? Wipe? Crush? Degauss?

Hard Drive destruction is achieved by one or more of the following ways:

Shredding –literally “slicing into small pieces”is undertaken in bulk by companies who offer this service.  You can either send them your drives or they may bring a shredder to your premises.  Obviously if you send your drives off site to be shredded you need to be sure of secure transport arrangements once the data is out of your control.  Similarly, if you need to collect up enough drives to warrant a visit from the mobile crusher you need a secure means to store the drives while you collect up enough of them to warrant the cost of a visit.

Wiping is done by the use of downloadable software. While this may be the most cost effect solution to a small user it is worth noting that it is a time consuming process as the software overwrites the drive multiple times, and it does not work on faulty drives. There may even be areas of a drive that your computer has abandoned as bad sectors which will still contain data after you have tried to wipe the drive using this method.  Wiping is therefore not considered to be a high security solution.

Crushing means that the Hard drive is subjected to physical damage usually ending up with either shattering or piercing the Platter and folding up the casing such that it is not possible to connect up the Drive and read the data. This method of Hard Drive Destruction is suitable for a wide variety of people as it offers a very flexible and relatively low cost solution.  Unlike Shredding, a table-top machine such as the Crunch 250 from VS Security Products can be placed in an organisation so that you keep control of all you drives in house, and you can destroy an individual drive in just 9 seconds, or you can collect them up in the safety of your organisation and crush them at the rate of 250 per hour.

Degaussing means subjecting the Hard drive to a high-energy magnetic field which has the effect of scrambling all the minute particles of recorded bits of data into random and completely unreadable configurations. Since, in the first instance it is the data recorded on the Platter which is the thing you are trying to destroy, using a degausser is the absolutely most secure method of Hard Drive destruction. For more information please see our Introduction to Degaussers.

Deciding which method of Hard Drive destruction is best for you depends on several factors including how sensitive your data is, how many hard drives you need to destroy, how much you can spend on a solution.

One additional aid for the most security minded is offered by VS Security Products in the form of its unique Data Destruction Auditor system. This is a program which can be linked to their Hard Drive Crusher – the Crunch 250 – and their degaussers including the DataGauss, the DataGone and the SDD Master. It will provide you with recorded and printable evidence of all the media you have destroyed. 

Why should my business invest in a hard drive degausser?

Using a hard drive degausser in your business can provide total protection for your customer or employee data, but what are some of the advantages of investing in a data degausser? Below we explore some of the advantages that secure data erasure can provide businesses, not just from a practical standpoint, but also, from the point of view of the customer. 

With data security becoming more prevalent and following on from the European Union’s strict GDPR law, businesses are looking for solutions whereby they can protect their customer and internal data while also complying with legislation to ensure safe data disposal. 

Here are some of the advantages of hard drive degaussing and the use of magnetic data erasure in businesses today: 

Data security compliance for GDPR and data law

GDPR is one of the world’s strictest data compliance laws affecting all businesses that trade with or operate in the European Union. Data security has increasingly faced scrutiny after several high profile data breaches in the past several years have made governments step up their efforts to ensure people’s personal data is protected. 

Hard drive degaussing can help businesses erase data from a large number of different mediums to ensure that customer data is properly handled. This is particularly the case when systems are being upgraded and replaced with newer frameworks. The hard drive disposal process is delicate and should data not be erased from all mediums, businesses affected by the new GDPR data protection law can be held liable if data is hacked or accessed by a third party without customer consent. In this situation, disposing of hard drives requires secure data erasure through the use of a degausser so that it cannot be retrieved later. 

Destroying a hard drive’s sensitive data

For many businesses holding sensitive data – being able to erase hard drives securely is a must. This is because a simple hard drive wipe with software doesn’t magnetically remove the data from the actual hard disk itself. Sensitive data, particularly if handled by security companies, the defense industry and other government departments needs to be disposed of with the highest level of erasure, and without third parties being able to recover the data. 

Sensitive data erasure with degaussing is also beneficial for businesses that want to reassure investors and stakeholders that there are internal procedures for data handling and that these are being followed strictly to ensure data safety. 

Hard drive degaussing audits for transparency

Businesses can leverage hard drive degaussing audits to demonstrate their processes for data erasure. This information can be provided to senior stakeholders in the business, managers and other C-level executives to show hard drives being erased and the full reporting of each set of disks that have successfully gone through the process. These reports can also be used elsewhere for legal investigations and for general business data security practices. 

You may like to see the DataGauss XL-LG that comes with an auditing tool. 

Ensuring customer data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands

Being able to erase hard disks securely through degaussing helps businesses erase customer data completely from their systems. This can then be confirmed to customers in writing and supports business transparency as well as ensuring that no third parties can access older data or break into systems to gain sensitive data. 

Supporting internal data processes

Hard drive degaussers can be brought into a company and form part of the data erasure process. Businesses will already have existing processes and may wish to further strengthen their data disposal by adding a layer of security through degaussing. By investing in a hard drive degausser unit, a business can support the internal data erasure processes, create transparent reports and provide total assurance to customers and internal stakeholders that processes are being improved and upgraded for the highest level of data security. 

Improving public image through data protection guarantees

Outside of the practical elements of hard drive degaussing, businesses can also defend their reputation publicly and promote their use of hard drive degaussing as a way to properly handle data. This can strengthen the trust factor for a business with its customer base and also show external stakeholders, governments and organizations that data security is being taken seriously. 

Explore our full range of hard drive degaussers and hard disk destroyers and see how you can secure your business data for the future and improve your reputation through transparency and proper data handling. You can also speak to one of our advisors who can provide you with further insight on the hard drive degaussers we provide and what product will be best suited for your organization or business.  

Degaussing: An Introduction

An Introduction to Degaussing

  1. What is a degausser?
  2. How does a degausser work?
  3. Operation of degaussers
  4. Detailed benefits of degaussers
  5. Points to consider when choosing a degausser
  6. Who uses a degausser?
  7. More about magnetic media

Degaussing definition – What is a Degausser?

It is a machine used to eliminate data stored on computer and laptop hard drives, floppy disks and magnetic tape, by randomly changing the alignment of magnetic domains on the medium.

Degaussing takes its meaning from Johann Gauss (1777-1855) a mathematician who studied and worked on electro-magnetic fields. Data is stored on magnetic media by making very small areas called magnetic domains change their magnetic alignment to be in the direction of an applied magnetic field. Degaussing magnetic media leaves the domains in random patterns with no preference to orientation, thereby rendering previous data unrecoverable. A degausser is therefore used to completely erase all audio, video and data signals from magnetic storage media.

This process is effective in a range of industries including video, audio, computer, broadcast and data security.

Benefits of Using a Degausser

  • Assurance that all sensitive data has been erased permanently
  • Disposes classified media quickly, safely and in-house
  • Improvement in the quality of output
  • Sizeable savings in operating costs
  • Meets the NSA and CESG requirements for sanitisation of classified information

Simply overwriting magnetic media does not completely erase data. Only a degausser can remove data 100% and ensure that confidential data is securely and completely erased.

How does a Degausser work?

It works by passing any magnetic media through a powerful magnet field to rearrange the polarity of the particles, thus completely removing any resemblance of previously recorded data. Although this process of course is simple in theory, in practice, the vast variation of media formats and magnetic densities makes the correct process quite difficult to achieve. The degausser is constructed in such a way as to enable the generated magnetic field to be available to the media when it is transported through it, which can be by physically holding the media and moving it through the field by hand, having it automatically conveyed by a belt transporter or rotated on a motorized spindle.

Different media demand varying magnetic field strength, therefore the coils that generate the magnetic field will also vary depending on this requirement. Generally speaking, a coil is a degausser which should have two to three times the energy rating of the material being degaussed. Where media has a security classification, Restricted, Confidential, Secret or Top Secret, a considerably higher energy rating will be required. This rating is measured in Oersteds after Hans Christian Oersted (1777-1851) who discovered the magnetic qualities of electricity. Further efficiency can be achieved by using more than one coil in multi-axial orientation; this produces a more effective degaussing field. Even better performance can be achieved by rotating the coils or the media during the process.

Operation of Degaussers

The operation of degaussers will vary depending on the type and quality of media and the speed and degree of erasure required. When erasing tapes, either the cassette must move through the magnetic field or you must move a magnetic field over the cassette. In each case, the consistency of the motion, the strength of the field and the distribution of that field over the entire media are what determine the quality of the erasure.

Most professionals and engineers agree that a conveyor transport degausser, which allows the user to place the magnetic media on a small belt, which in turn passes the media through or over the degaussing coils at a constant speed, assures the most uniform process. Custom-designed degaussers can assist with the specialist needs of bulk operators with belt feed conveyors; collection hoppers are available to deal with tapes, disks and reels, all helping in making the operation effective & efficient.

Effective degaussing is very much a performance factor of the machine and generally passing the media through the field twice does not improve the effectiveness. If however the media is rotated by 90 degrees, some improvement can be achieved. VS Security Products have developed an eraser employing “state of the art” technology that uses a rotating coil technique. The media passes on a variable speed conveyor belt through a field, generated by two powerful coils, which are rotating, one above the media, the other beneath it.

With the ever-increasing demand to fit more & more data on smaller media, there is now a requirement that can be more important than absolute erasure. That is consistency of erasure.

It is widely understood that data at a high packing density stored on magnetic media is easier to erase than lower density data. The data signal to noise ratios, bit-to-bit phase relationships, amplitude variations all become more critical and require more sophisticated electronics to ensure valid error free data recovery. Variations of magnetic flux, remaining from a poor erasure cycle, will make data recovery more difficult and will result in increasing errors.

Detailed Benefits of Degaussers

The resultant benefits are substantial, producers of audio and video tapes achieve better yields as well as increased quality. Data users enjoy greater efficiency due to considerably reduced “error rates”. Professional users in every sector, from government to business, benefit from incorporating degaussing within their magnetic media processing procedure and achieve considerable cost savings by being able to confidently reuse again and again media previously discarded. All in all there is a very strong financial and operational case to use degaussers, especially manufactured by the world’s leading specialists, VS Security Products .

The controlled application of degaussers to the process involved in the production & operation of magnetic media can achieve considerable savings. For a start, many operators who do not currently degauss, simply throw away suspect media that, with a careful process of degaussing applied to it, would have a considerable extended life. Many operators claim benefit of up to four times the useful life of some types of media.

Further direct & indirect savings can also be achieved. Quality of performance of the media has a very high value, although it would be difficult to qualify. Indirectly, there are additional cost savings to producers and to end users due to the considerable reduction of “down time” of computers and data processing apparatus arising from faulty or imperfect magnetic media being used. Diskette duplicators claim to gain upwards of 25% better production yields directly attributable to degaussing their bulk bland diskettes, prior to processing.

Another benefit is that magnetic media is very difficult to dispose of. If it is burned, it emits toxic fumes, if it is buried, it is not biodegradable. By re-using your media as many times as possible, you are adding you your company’s recycling programme.

The amount of magnetic media used in the broadcast, computer and software industries has resulted in professional users striving to achieve higher quality and efficiency, whilst at the same time searching for cost savings. By degaussing magnetic media using “deep erasure”, created by powerful magnetic fields, users or producers find that previously recorded data, or certification signal can be eliminated completely from tapes, cassettes or cartridges. The effectiveness that this method of erasure achieves far exceeds that of DC erasure (this is the method that is used in hard disk drives).

Points to Consider When Choosing a Degausser

  1. Type of media used: What formats do you need to be degaussed? Different degaussers can handle different types of media.
  2. Volume of media: How much media do you need to degauss and in what sort of timeframe?
  3. Density of media: Magnetic media varies in its density. You will need a degausser with enough power to completely erase data on your media.
  4. Type of Operation: Manual or Automatic. Do you have enough time to erase tapes manually or would you prefer an automated system?
  5. Proposed location of degausser: How much room do you have for a degausser?

Who uses a Degausser?

Anybody who uses magnetic media will benefit from the use of a degausser, including:

  • Radio/Television broadcasters: enables expensive tapes to be re-used
  • Computer departments of corporations: allows re-use of back up tapes and safe disposal of information from PC hard drives
  • Data Storage Companies: data no longer needed can be easily and efficiently erased
  • Defense Organizations: confidential and top secret information can be erased
  • CCTV Operators: allows VHS tapes to be re-used again and again
  • Audio/Video duplicators: allows re-use of any production over runs and returned out of date tapes
  • Financial Services: Banks and insurance companies can use a degausser to re-use magnetic media for voice logging systems
  • Emergency Services: Re-use tapes used in voice logging systems
  • Hospitals: erase sensitive information held on magnetic media, such as patient records no longer required
  • Universities: allows student records that are no longer needed to be erased

More About Magnetic Media

The term magnetic media covers a vast range of material from audio/video tapes and cassettes to computer diskettes and reels, supplied in a wide choice of sizes and complexities. All of them however, perform in the same basic way yet have significantly differing characteristics in performance and in operation that will require differing erasure processes.

Magnetic media consists of material that is coated with minute metallic particles that react to magnetic influences applied to them. Such influences fall into two types.

The first is the intended influence or signal that provides the desired “Play-back” from the original recording. Ideally the reply should replicate the original recording, whether this is from audio, video or computer data source. The second influence is the unwanted signal, which can take the form of distortion, bias, corruption or interference and can produce undesirable effects such as poor quality audio or video media or software glitches in data material. Clearly any process which enhances the first and eliminates the second is desirable and a degausser can achieve this.

CCPA

The California Consumer Privacy Act

The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) became law on January 1st 2020 in the state of California and places additional legal requirements on businesses and organizations when it comes to handling data. The law is comprehensive with a number of detailed statutes reflecting today’s new digital age, and how valuable data has become. CCPA gives consumers new powers and rights when it comes to their data, which businesses must comply with in order to avoid being fined or found in breach of its provisions. Some of the statutes include:

  • Consumers right to receive information on privacy practices and access information.
  • Consumers right to deletion.
  • Information required to be provided as part of an access request.
  • Consumers right to receive information about onward disclosures.
  • Consumer right to prohibit the sale of their information.
  • Price discrimination based upon the exercise of the opt-out right.

Business compliance and impact

Businesses affected by CCPA include those which hold or collect personal data from consumers, and are doing business in the state of California. There are three thresholds which organizations will fall under when considering if CCPA applies. These are:

  • If the annual gross revenue of a business exceeds $25 million.
  • If buying or selling personal information of more than 50,000 individuals.
  • If earning more of half its annual revenue from the selling of people’s personal information.

In alignment with CCPA, businesses are expected to implement data security practices that can support the protection of consumer data across its organization – where consumer data is being handled. 

See our Data Destruction Auditor to learn more about data auditing. 

Business processes required under CCPA

Businesses adhering to the CCPA must implement the following processes to be compliant. If they fall within one or more of the compliance thresholds then CCPA will apply: 

These are:

    • Implementing parental or guardian consent for children (minors) who are under the age of 13, and ‘affirmative consent’ for minors who are aged between 13 and 16 – in relation to data sharing processes.
    • A clearly defined link on the home page of the website of the business providing a “Do Not Sell My Personal Information” link where users visiting that website are able to opt out of the selling of their personal data.
    • New privacy policies which include a description of California residents’ rights.
    • A point of contact for website visitors that allow them to access their data.

Fines and sanctions that can be imposed under CCPA provisions

  • If a business suffers data theft or a data breach, it can be ordered to pay statutory damages in civil class action lawsuits and asked to pay up to $750 per incident and resident (residing in California).
  • Financial penalties of up to $7,500 can be issued for intentional data violations and $2,500 for unintentional data violations.

Signed by Governor Brown in June, 2018, and enacted on January 1st, 2020, the California Consumer Privacy Act enhances consumer protection and holds businesses to account that do not protect data, or suffer from data breaches where consumer information is accessed without consent.