Let's Talk Data Destruction

How to (safely) say goodbye to your old equipment


We got a video if you don't like to read :) 


Welcome to another edition of Talk Cyber To Me.  Today, we are going to talk Data Destruction. 


We are fortunate to be sitting down with Justin Pelletier. He is an intelligence executive for the Department of Defense.  Needless to say, he has seen a lot of crazy things when it comes to data and hacking, and would love to share some thoughts on what you should be doing to protect your data.

Justin, thank you so much for being with us.   


Lets get right into it. Why is it important to properly destroy your data? 


We store information on our phones and computers; this information can be used to open credit cards and conduct bank transactions.  So, we need to properly destroy that data when we get rid of that device because if we don’t, we leave ourselves open to identity theft and then we may have our accounts locked down when we attempt to buy gas or groceries.


It’s a major problem as we all I think know through the media and everyday there seems to be some headline on identify theft or hacking.  But, how big of a problem is this?


Statistics that I have seen show about 15 million Americans have their identities stolen each year that results in about $15 or 16 billion dollars every year lost to identify theft.  


Wow, and to help us obviously secure our data, you brought along a really nice slide that describes some of the methods of data destruction.  Can you talk about what the methods are and walk us through that slide?


Sure, there are five ways people commonly use to try to destroy their data but only three of those methods actually work.  A lot of folks think that they can delete or reformat their device but that is not effective because a lot of that information stays on the device. Then some people will partially destroy their devices, they take a hammer to their phone or something.  It may feel great to break your phone but that doesn’t do the trick either.  So the best ways to destroy your data are either to use magnets and degauss the drive, overwrite the data or completely destroying the device.


Got it.  And specifically, what would you recommend for small business owners?


Any of those three will work just fine but degaussing and overwriting takes some know-how to do it right but completely destroying the drive doesn’t. So you can just melt it and that’s that. You can use a campfire pit or propane torch but you just need to be careful that you don’t inhale the fumes because they are toxic.  So, you gotta leave the smores out if you going to be destroying your drive.


Ok we will separate dessert time from data destruction time. Very good advice! 


So, one follow up question. Obviously if you melt it you can’t use it anymore.  What would you recommend if you want to continue using your device?


You need to overwrite it, then you have go sector by sector to overwrite the drive. It’s a little technical but make sure you have a good data wiping tool and you are deliberate about getting all spots on the device that could store the data. 


Excellent.  This has been great, thank you so much for sharing your insights and your time, we really appreciate it.



My pleasure.