Tuesday, November 16, 2010

New global data wiping survey by Kroll Ontrack reveals one out of two businesses do not erase sensitive data

Ontrack® data recovery experts recommend deploying certified data wiping software or services prior to disposing or donating old hard drives to prevent data breaches

Minneapolis, MN – Nov. 16, 2010 – According to a recent global survey on data wiping practices, Kroll Ontrack, the leading provider of information management, data recovery, and legal technology products and services, found less than half of businesses regularly deploy a method of erasing sensitive data from old computers and hard drives. Of the 49 percent of businesses that are systematically deploying a data eraser method, 75 percent do not delete data securely, leaving most organizations highly susceptible to data breaches, which plague businesses at least once a year according to the 2010 Kroll Ontrack Annual ESI Trends Survey and cost an organization an average of $6.75 million per breach according to the 2009 Ponemon Cost of Data Breach Study.

"Three-fourths of businesses are deleting files, reformatting or destroying drives, or 'do not know' how they are erasing sensitive data. Deleting files from a hard drive only marks the files to be rewritten, which may never occur. Furthermore, reformatting the drive only removes the entries in the index or table of contents that point to the data. And, physically destroying a drive is not a guaranteed method of protection, as Kroll Ontrack has been recovering data from severely damaged drives, such as the Columbia space shuttle, for more than 25 years. None of these methods ensure that sensitive information is no longer on the drive," said Jim Reinert, vice president of product development, Kroll Ontrack. "A certified data wiping software, such as Ontrack® Eraser, that overwrites all the data on the hard drive or a degausser, which wipes the data using a strong magnetic force rendering the device no longer usable, are the two safest methods to ensure private data is wiped and does not fall into the wrong hands."

"Surveying more than 1,500 participants from 12 countries across North America, Europe and Asia Pacific regarding their data wiping practices also revealed that four in 10 businesses gave away their used hard drive to another individual and 22 percent do not know what happened to their old computer. In total, more than 60 percent of all old business computers are fully intact with proprietary business data in the second hand market.

"In addition to helping companies achieve compliance with laws and regulations regarding data retention and privacy, data wiping is fundamental to reducing the risk of security breaches," added Reinert. "It is a must - regardless of the size of the organization - and needs to be incorporated into overall data security and business continuity plans."

Data wiping solutions from Kroll Ontrack are closely aligned with that of Kroll Data Breach Services, a division formed earlier in the year to provide businesses with specialized investigative and recovery support at all stages of a data loss. "Precision tools such as Ontrack Eraser are fundamental to the preventative strategy Kroll imparts to its clients," confirmed Andrea Johnson, vice president, Data Breach Services, Kroll. "We’re helping businesses get ahead of a data breach event and prevent it when possible with services that enable organizations to recognize an exposure and act immediately to reduce that risk."

Only 19 percent of businesses deploy data eraser software and fewer, 6 percent, use a degausser to erase media. When asked if and how businesses verify their data has been deleted, very few (16 percent) reported relying on a product or service report to confirm all of their data had been wiped. Aside from businesses that “do not know" (34 percent) how they ensure their data has been erased from an old device, the next most popular response, reported by 22 percent of businesses, was "reboot the drive" to see if the data is still there.

"Reports that verify or confirm what the tool and/or service did are critical," concluded Reinert. "Not only do they inform you of what has been wiped, but they should identify the serial number as well as the make and model information of the wiped hard drive, the date and time of when the information was wiped, and a listing of how much information was wiped."

For more information about Kroll Ontrack and its eraser services and solutions, visit https://www.krollontrack.com/eraser-solutions.

About Kroll Ontrack Inc.
Kroll Ontrack provides technology-driven services and software to help legal, corporate and government entities as well as consumers manage, recover, search, analyze, produce and present data efficiently and cost-effectively. In addition to its award-winning suite of software, Kroll Ontrack provides data recovery, data destruction, paper and electronic discovery, document review, computer forensics, secure information services, ESI and jury consulting, and trial presentation services. Kroll Ontrack is the technology services division of Kroll Inc., the global risk consulting company. Kroll is a subsidiary of Altegrity, an industry-leading provider of information solutions. For more information about Kroll Ontrack and its offerings please visit: www.krollontrack.com; www.ontrackdatarecovery.com.