Data Destruction Part 2:

The NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) has since revised the DoD 5220.22M guidelines with NIST 800-88. The new standard basically states that a single pass overwrite is just as effective as 3 passes. We at Irwin Electronics agree with this to a point, but still prefer a 4 pass overwrite. We want to expand upon some myths, and truths, you should be aware of when selecting a company to ensure your data is safe when discarding, selling, or donating your used equipment. For all practical purposes, yes, a single pass overwrite does ensure that your data cannot be recovered via software alone. In our previous issue, we gave the scenario of the skier going down the slope as it applies to the head floating above the platters of the hard drive. The process of recovering extraneous data requires physically dismantling the drive an examining the platters with highly specialized equipment. This is a very expensive, time consuming, and inaccurate technology. To date, this process has never been used, or proven successful, in the private sector. For that reason alone the single pass method holds true. Our belief is that it’s worth a little extra time to perform the additional passes for the additional security offered since it requires only computer time. A technician does not need to monitor each pass, or restart the process following each pass. The software does that automatically. The NIST guidelines also suggest that the overwrites be human verified on a minimum sample of at least 20%. The tool we use verifies the data on each sector as it’s written, and includes the results on the report generated. We have tested our tool, and confirmed it does exactly as it states. We also verify this on every drive we wipe. The NIST guidelines state that the technician must be qualified in the field of data recovery. Our founder, Mr. Irwin, is considered by many to be a pioneer in the field of data forensics. He was personally trained by Michael Anderson, who is the true founder of this technology. Mr. Irwin was also personally trained by Shawn McCreight, the author of the now standard EnCase software. He personally had a hand in making EnCase what it is today. He has years of experience as a Data Forensics expert, and is even trained as an Expert Witness in a court of law. There is no doubt that our founder is fully trained, qualified, and certified to perform these tests.

We’ve all heard the news reports of sensitive data being recovered from discarded computers. It is important to note that in each of these cases there is no evidence that the drives in question had undergone any attempt to remove the data. No recovery tools were used in the process of recovering this data. In each case, the drives were simply connected and powered. All data, including the operating system, was intact. You can rest assured that this will not happen to you if we are responsible for destroying your data. We go above and beyond for all our customers. It’s almost unheard of to find a company with this level of expertise that caters to residential users and small businesses.