A recent survey conducted by Blancco Technology Group has revealed that fewer than half of IT professionals securely wipe hard drives and delete data. The failure to ensure sensitive data is permanently erased could result in corporate secrets or sensitive information being obtained by criminals and competitors.
For the study, Blancco surveyed more than 400 IT security professionals. Questions were asked about the methods used to delete files from devices and how data was deleted when computers and other devices reached the end of life.
The survey revealed that many IT professionals failed to understand that deleting files from computers was not the same as securely erasing files. 51% of respondents thought that when files were deleted from the recycle bin they could no longer be recovered and were permanently deleted. 51% of respondents also thought that performing a quick format of a hard drive would ensure that files and data were permanently erased.
IT professionals need to understand that it is not possible to securely wipe hard drives and delete data simply by formatting a drive. Doing so does not mean that files cannot be recovered. The files and data are still stored on the drive; all that has happened is the space on the hard drive that was used to store the files is made available again. Recovering files from a formatted drive is even possible with a host of free data recovery tools.
Formatting a drive to prevent data recovery requires a process of repeatedly writing data to the drive. Only then will the original data be unrecoverable.
The risks of insecure data deletion are well understood by the majority of organizations. When asked to rank a range of threats on their seriousness, incomplete and improper data removal rank highest, ahead of backdoor attacks, extortion hacks, and accidental insider threats.
The failure to securely wipe hard drives and delete data potentially places corporate, customer, and employee data at risk, yet relatively few companies have policies in place to ensure that sensitive data are permanently erased. Only 9% of companies pay to use a tool that permanently erases data on entire hard drives.