With digitalisation becoming a large part of our lives, most of our confidential data are now stored in media storage devices. However, when it is time to dispose these devices, are we using the right methods to get rid of them? In this article, we will look at some of the best data destruction methods that are offered and most commonly used in Singapore.
Failure to properly dispose of these IT equipment can have serious consequences for your data, the environment, and your company or own reputation.
For example, in 2017, Coca-Cola suffered a data breach after a former employee stole an external hard drive which contained the personal data of more than 8000 employees. Penalty fees for cases like this could go up to 1 million dollars.
Cases like these proves the vulnerability of confidential data when our IT equipment like hard drives, thumb drives, computers are not securely destroyed after use.
Point to note: Deleting files do not solve the issue!
There are 3 main options to consider for data destruction in Singapore – Overwriting, degaussing, and physical destruction.
This data removal method involves writing new data on top of the old one. The process of overwriting involves the pattern of 1’s and 0’s written over the original data. Overwriting once is sufficient for most cases but for high security applications, multiple wipes might be required to provide extra level of assurance.
On the other hand, overwriting takes a very long time especially for high-capacity drives. It might also not be able to overwrite data from inaccessible regions such as host protected areas. This method is usually not recommended for large quantities.
The method of degaussing uses a high-powered magnet to remove and reduce the magnetic field of a media storage device. When applied, degaussing can effectively scramble the hard drive platter until it is no longer usable or readable. Data is stored using magnetic principles and degaussing alters the magnetic field of the device.
The 2 major disadvantages of degaussing are:
Organizations that are looking to destroy highly confidential information usually choose physical destruction of data. This method is carried out using an industrial shredder machine which crushes the device into small particles.
If you no longer need to use the media device, the safest and most effective way would be physical destruction. There are currently data destruction companies in Singapore offering physical destruction at very affordable prices. A certificate of destruction will be issued for compliance, and it can be done within a day using an industrial shredder.
This can also be an eco-friendly method as the ferrous and non-ferrous metals are extracted from the shredded particles to be recycled.
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Shredding is the most common and effective way to dispose confidential documents in Singapore and is usually quick and simple. Whether you need a one-time service or regular collection for shredding, companies like Arkiva can provide an ad-hoc or scheduled solution.
Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) not only covers the sharing of personal data. It also must be securely handled and destroyed when it is no longer required.
Here are some simple ways to handle and dispose your confidential documents in Singapore.
Whether you’re an individual, SME, or a large organisation, we deal with confidential documents and data on a daily basis. These includes things like personal data on paper or media devices, or company accounting information or employee data.
No matter if it is a pile of paper documents or media storage device, it is important that we have a plan on how will securely destroy them when we need to.
An example of when we might need to securely dispose of these confidential documents would be when the contract with our clients has finished, the end of storage life for financial documents (7 years for most cases in Singapore), or it can be just personal mail and letters over the year. These contain confidential information and needs to be securely disposed of according to the PDPA regulations here in Singapore.
Shredding is the most common and best way to destroy paper documents and is usually quick, simple, and cost effective at the same time. It is recommended to keep a shredder machine in your office if the space permits so that the documents can be shredded periodically.
If you have large quantity, it may not be wise to shred them yourself as our typical office shredder may take a long time. This is when we can outsource this to companies offering secure confidential document shredding services.
The advantages of shredding compared to incineration would be that the shredded paper can be recycled. This is the most eco-friendly was to handle your confidential documents in Singapore.
This is usually the method of shredding for cheaper types of shredder machine and has a small chance of piecing the paper back together.
This is the most secure way to shred paper as the pieces have been shredded into small particles and extremely hard to reconstruct. For shredding companies, they do use machines to mix up the shredded particles so that there is a zero chance of recovering the confidential documents.
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With digitalisation becoming a large part of our lives, our confidential data are now largely stored in media devices like HDDs, SSDs, CDs, thumb drives etc. After we are done with these, there is a need to securely destroy these data to prevent anyone from gaining access to our confidential information.
There are several ways to wipe out data from our media devices with the basic ones being reformatting, wiping, or overwriting data. However, these may not be the best solutions as these data can easily be retrieved back with the right programs.
Another method which is one of the safer options would be to degauss. Degaussing is the process of removing and reducing the magnetic field of a storage drive. When applied to magnetic storage media, the process can quickly and effectively purge and entire storage device. This makes the data completely unrecoverable.
The safest way used by some large companies like Intel will be physical destruction. This process is straight-forward and as the phrase suggests, will physically destroy the whole device by shredding. This will ensure that there is no chance that the data will ever be recovered.
For more information on how to dispose of confidential documents in Singapore, do reach out to Arkiva’s dedicated specialists to learn more about how we can help with protecting your confidential data and be green and sustainable at the same time.
We sincerely thank all our clients for their continuous support and will work harder as a team to provide better services to you!
The Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) was officially established on 2 January 2013. The commission serves as Singapore’s authority in all matters related to personal data protection.
There are heavy penalties for breach of Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA). Fines can be up to SGD$1 million and companies may suffer loss in reputation.
The definition of Personal Data is any information relating to a person that enables him/her to be identified, whether directly or indirectly.
PDPA was implemented as a Singapore law to prevent the misuse of personal data.
It covers any personal data which are stored both in electronic and non-electronic formats.
Some examples of Personal Data includes:
The following are the obligations of any organisations under the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA):
Informing individuals the purposes of collecting & using their personal data. Using them for purposes that they have given consent to and allow withdrawal with reasonable notice.
Ensure that personal data collected is accurate and complete and make reasonable security measures to ensure the personal data are not disclosed while in your possession.
Do not keep personal data once it is no longer required and to dispose of them the correct way.
Provide individuals with access and information on how Personal Data was used upon request.
In any cases of data breach which might result in significant harm to individuals, to notify PDPC as well as affected individual.
PDPA compliance is mandated for organisations operating in Singapore with respect to using, collecting, and disclosing of personal data.
Employees of any organisations must also adhere to their organisation’s policies to ensure compliance with PDPA.
Companies in Singapore like Arkiva will be able to help with securely destroying paper documents or electronics like hard disks and flash drives that contain personal data.
By physically destroying the confidential personal data, companies can have a peace of mind that the personal data has been fully erased and safe from data leak.
A certificate of destruction issued upon completion of service also acts as a “black & white” proof that data has been destroyed for future audit purposes.