Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Consequences Of Failing To Follow Data Destruction Guidelines

Data in and of itself is simply a set of bits that becomes information only when it is interpreted and used. Information has a life that can be quantified. Most information loses its value over time, though there are some exceptions. But those exceptions and the lifetime of information must both be defined or serious consequences may ensue. Some information may be needed for years, while other sets of information may have a lifespan of months, weeks or even days. A business must remember that information comes from data, which is a physical imprint on some physical device that does not go away when the useful life of the information is over. A physical action must be completed to close the lifecycle: data destruction.

The useful life of information will indicate the retention period of the underlying data. When the end of the retention period for that data is reached, then, for many reasons both strategic and practical, the data must be purged from all systems.

The most obvious benefit of data retention and destruction guidelines is the freeing up of data storage capacity. It costs money to retain data, so why should you pay to retain data that is no longer needed? Besides the reductions in cost, data destruction guidelines makes computer management that much easier because there is that much less data to manage.

But freeing up disk space is not the primary reason for these guidelines. The retention of information depends on the nature and the usefulness of the information. Also, the sensitivity and confidentiality of the information must be taken into account. Considering the state of computer forensics these days, old data, even if deleted, can still be recovered -- this action is totally unacceptable with any information deemed sensitive or confidential. Such information must be purged according to defined guidelines based on the useful lifetime of the information.

There is another instance in which unfavourable consequences will ensure if data destruction guidelines are not followed. Hardware replacement occurs all the time. A laptop screen burns out or a desktop workstation must be replaced. Consider the data sitting on the hard drive. What if a failed hard drive must be returned to the manufacturer for a warranty replacement? In all those situations, the data still sits on the storage components of those devices and can be retrieved. We're talking about such important information as your confidential client lists, descriptions of your proprietary processes or sensitive details about your upcoming projects. You do not want that information released to your competitors. Consider the lawsuits that may result if there's a release of patient data if you're a medical office or a release of client tax data if you're an accounting firm.

Then, on top of all these situations, think about all the government regulations that spell out in detail how certain types of business must handle data related to clients or to company finances. Legal consequences may indeed be severe if data retention and destruction guidelines are not followed.

Find out more information about data destruction through Sims Recycling.

View the original article here


Post a Comment

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Favorites More