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Why is Data Erasure So Important? PDF Print E-mail
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Most information assets contain volumes of confidential data which organizations have a legal, moral, and fiduciary responsibility to protect. Enterprise without clear data erasure policies or those with poorly designed asset disposal processes can expose their organizations to a variety of risks, including:-

1.    Customer, Partner, and Employee Confidence Risks

Customers and employee depend on the security of the personal and business information they entrust to an organization as part of their working relationship. Failure to effectively erase this information upon the disposal of an IT asset or storage device can result in damage to a brand and/or company image, failing stock prices, the loss of customers and business partners, and negative publicity. It can also result in high employee turnover and can impact day-to-day business operations and internal information security.

2.    Compliance/Audit Risks

A host of strict industry standards and government regulations require organizations to mitigate the risks of unauthorized exposure of confidential data. Organizations in regulated industries must have a gapless audit trail and evidence of steps taken to prevent leakage of confidential information. Examples of pertinent regulations include:-

  • HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) requires safeguards to protect the security and confidentiality of protected health information.
  • FACTA (Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act) requires the destruction of papers containing consumer information such as name, address, SSN, credit information, and data compiled from this information.
  • GLB (Gramm-Leach Bliley) is a federal law requiring banking and financial institutions across the U.S. to describe how they will protect the confidentiality and security of consumer information.
  • CAL SB 1386 (The California Information Practice Act). The law requires companies that own or have access to personal information of California residents to notify them if their data have (or may have) been accessed illegally.
  • SOX ( The Sarbanes-Oxley Act) mandates corporate governance to stringent accounting and reporting control standards and holds top executives personally responsible for the accuracy and timeliness of their company’s financial data – under threat of criminal prosecution. Any data that has not been erased or rendered irretrievable at the end of the life of an IT asset is likely to be a violation of SOX.

3.    Litigation/Legal Risks

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes. According to the Federal Trade Commission, identity theft was the top consumer complaint in 2006 for the seventh year running, accounting for 36% of all complaints filed with the agency that year. A carelessly discarded hard drive containing confidential data (e.g ., credit card details, social security numbers, or contact information) can easily result in identity theft and expose an organizations to negative publicity and costly litigation.

4.    Software Licensing Risks

Application or system software that remains on a hard drive when an asset changes hands may violate site-licensing terms from the software developer. Also, the reallocation of a server to another department or division can also breach a software license, and can incur costly fines.

 

Did You Know

arrow Identity theft is the top consumer complaint in the USA according to the Federal Trade Commission.

arrow US consumers reported fraud loss totalling more than $1.1 billion in 2006.

arrow Credit card fraud (25%) was the most common form of reported identity theft in the US in 2006.

arrow More than 100 000 people are affected by identity theft each year in the UK

arrow According to Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, more than 350 data loss incidents involving more than 140 million records have occurred since February 2005

arrow Organisations are obliged by law to take take adequate steps to ensure the proper disposal of data


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