Before a department may redistribute, sell, or dispose of computing equipment to another entity, all data must be removed from the storage device(s) to comply with IU Purchasing policy (FIN-PURCH-11). Departments must choose and correctly use a tool that performs at least a 1-pass wipe of the storage device. UISO has verified that the tools that can satisfy this requirement, if used correctly, are DBAN and Mac OS X's Disk Utility.
If a storage device is inoperable or cannot be wiped using one of these tools, then remaining options include degaussing and drive destruction. The UISO recommends against degaussing and encourages departments to use the IUB/IUPUI Surplus Data Destruction Service (see Destruction section below).
When a file is deleted using the usual methods inherent in an operating system, these methods typically only remove the pointers to the files -- NOT the actual files themselves. The data remains on the hard drive as unallocated space and can easily be recovered with readily available tools.
Another common misconception is that using system utilities like fdisk and re-formatting a hard drive will securely delete all data on the hard drive. Like rm and del, these utilities modify file system attributes but do not remove the actual data.
CD-ROM's, since they are read-only, introduce a different challenge in that there is no way to programmatically and securely delete the contents of the CD. Inoperable hard drives are also a challenge since they cannot be connected to a system and accessed through software.
Disk wiping is a term used to describe a method that writes a series of 1's and/or 0's over the disk to securely remove the data. Since tools that do this have to overwrite the entire disk, this process can be time-consuming.
For tools that securely wipe of hard drives see KB doc - How can I securely wipe disk drives?
For media that has contained highly sensitive data or for media that cannot be wiped (e.g., inoperable hard drives, DVD's) or degaussed (e.g., CD-ROM's), destruction of the media is the most effective means of ensuring that the data cannot be recovered.
The University has data destruction services available.
In order to be effective, the destruction has to be thorough. For example, a simple whack with a hammer leaves the majority of data on the media readable.
Degaussing is a process by which magnetic storage media is subjected to a powerful magnetic field to remove data on the media.
Since a degausser that meets the performance requirements set forth by the National Security Agency/Central Security Service, NSA/CSS, can be cost prohibitive, and is ineffective with optical media such as DVDs and CDs, the UISO recommends that departments take advantage of the Data Destruction Service offered by IUB/IUPUI Surplus (linked above).
Shred it! Information classified as Critical, when stored in paper form, must be properly destroyed. For low volume paper document destruction, units may consider purchasing a small cross-cut paper shredder. For high volume needs, a document destruction vendor may be the best solution. The Office of Procurement Services maintains a list of contracted vendors for document destruction.
I have an inoperable hard drive that contains sensitive data. What should I do?
Since disk wiping can’t be used, physical destruction is the best alternative.
I have a computer that is being replaced by a newer model and I would like to transfer this machine to another user in my department. The system has been used to store FERPA protected student records. What should I do?
Disk wiping is the best alternative.
I have a computer that is being replaced by a newer model and I would like to transfer this machine to another department on campus. The system was bought new and used as a public access terminal. It has never maintained sensitive data, but it does have applications installed on it that were licensed from a software vendor. What should I do?
Since data storage is not an issue, the simplest method would be to fdisk the system and reformat the hard drive. This process will ensure that any individually licensed software
I have a computer that is being replaced by a newer model and I would like to transfer this machine to another department on campus. The system has been used to store sensitive data. What should I do?
Once again, secure disk wiping is probably the best alternative.
I have a computer that has reached the end of its life and I cannot find another department at the University that wants it. What should I do?
University Purchasing has two policies that discuss this:
I have a hard drive containing sensitive data that has a mechanical failure, and the computer manufacturer is requesting that the drive be returned for replacement under warranty. What should I do?
Try informing the manufacturer that the drive contains sensitive data and that would prefer not to return it. If the manufacturer subsequently insists on return of the damaged drive before sending a replacement, then request a formal letter from the manufacturer stating that they will ensure all data is securely removed from the hard drive. If the vendor continues to refuse, purchase a replacement drive and destroy the damaged disk using one of the university’s destruction services (IU's Surplus Data Destruction Service).
I have a very large volume of media to be retired that contains sensitive data. What are my options?
University Purchasing can work with a professional shredder company that can come on campus and shred the media. When finished, they will also provide a certificate of destruction. Contact your campus Purchasing department for additional information.
I will no longer be using my BlackBerry or iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch. Must I remove all of my personal data from it? If so, how do I do that?
Yes, all data must be removed from smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices that have been used to access, store, or manipulate institutional data.
Please consult the following Knowledge Base documents:
I may have sensitive data cached in my office copier or multifunction device. What do I do?
Read our article on Protecting Data in Copiers and Multifunction Devices.
Contact the Office of Procurement Services with any specific questions about equipment or related purchases.