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HDD destruction in Kent

Digital files: are they safe?

Companies must keep records so they can function. They store large amounts of information, from their own accountancy to customer portfolios and personal data. With the advancement of technology, more and more of these files and documents have become digital. Some of that information is stored in situ, in flash drives or hard drives inside office's computers or even whole server docks. With the increasing offer of offsite digital data storage, like cloud storage or servers for hire, companies now outsource their data records. In order to access this information, they have passcodes and passwords they must keep safe, so no unwanted person gets access to this confidential information.

The fact that digital files don't have a physical support aside from the disk or server in which they are stored, makes many people believe they are actually safer than paper documents or records. Digital files do, indeed, have many advantages when compared with papers. They are easier to rewrite, take far less space, are easier to send and receive, and intelligent databases can store and process information automatically. Accountancy and monitoring are much easier with digital tools compatible with these digital files, so electronic processes on these data save time and money and take much less physical space.

However, is it true that digital files are safer than paper when it comes to data leaks and unwanted disclosure? Companies are aware of the importance of shredding and properly destroying documents, cards and bills after they are used, in order to prevent data theft. They hire shredding companies like Shred First, which take care of all the destruction tasks carefully, making sure that the information cannot be recovered anymore. Can you say the same from digital data?

It isn't really gone when you delete it

One of the most common, and most dangerous, misconceptions about digital data is that they dissappear completely when files are deleted. Once they are gone from the recycling bin, they say, they are nowhere to be found, vanished in thin air. This couldn't be farther away from the truth.

Destruction of digital information is far more delicate than people believe it to be. Modern drives work with magnetical imprinting, which means that once you record some data, it stays there until you rewrite it, saving new information at that precise physical spot on the drive. And even then, the magnetic prints can be traced by a skilled hacker and recovered. In other words, even if you delete files, they can be easily recovered with the right sofware. And by the way, several versions of this software are available for free in the Internet, for anyone to download. So, in case you delete data from your drive, and someone unwanted gets their hands on it, in many cases it would be child's play for them to recover and copy all confidential files you had there, including customer portfolios and personal information, accountancy, financial information and all internal records of your company.

How to properly destroy digital data

This reality has led to the development of digital shredding, which is a process that deletes information from drives so it cannot be recovered by any means. If you keep records of personal or corporate data, then you should get it digitally shredded once you no longer use your device. This includes your office's computers, drivers, mobile devices and smartphones, and even external drives like flash drives or pendrives.

Data destruction can be performed at two levels: digital and physical. Digital destruction takes place when you use special software to digitally shred data stored in a drive. The process involves rewriting content on the disk, several times, in order to cover the magnetic traces of information previously stored there. This involves several sessions of rewriting random bits of information one on top of the other until there is nothing left of the previous files.

The second level is physical destruction of all drives containing confidential information. This must also be performed by a professional with proper equipment. Cracking a drive by hand or with a hammer isn't enough, because hackers can put the pieces back together and recover all information stored there. Drives must be shattered by special shredders, build to destroy this kinds of devices.

So when you keep digital files, remember they must be shredded before you throw them away, or in case they are broken and you cannot fix them. They could still have important records and information you want safe, so it is worth it to undergo a shredding process.

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