The importance of NIST Guidelines | Data Destruction

NIST Standards for Media Sanitization and Data Destruction 

National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST), which provides best practices for the United States’ measurement and standards infrastructure, defines media sanitization as: 

“The general process of removing data from storage media, such that there is reasonable assurance that data may not be easily retrieved and reconstructed.” 

NIST Special Publication 800-88 “Gudelines for Media Sanitization” is the US Government’s data media destruction standard.  This guideline is referenced in all federal data privacy laws as the only approved method of destroying personally sensitive data.  It has become the de-facto private sector standard as well.   

The shredding of data media is identified under the NIST guidelines as: The ultimate form of sanitization.” 

After media are destroyed, they cannot be reused as originally intended. Physical destruction can be accomplished using a variety of methods, including disintegration, incineration, pulverizing, shredding and melting. 

Sanitization is the process of removing data from a hard drive, CD-ROM or other electronic media, generally at the end of the data’s life cycle. Special Publication 800-88 provides guidelines for establishing a program for the sanitization of hard drives and other electronic media. It recommends a number of methods for sanitizing various storage media and verifying the process, including degaussing and shredding. 

The benefit of device shredding is the assurance that the data is infeasible to recover using state of the art laboratory techniques. Additionally, device shredding has the significant added advantage of being technology insensitive.  This is important as Solid State Drives have become mainstream. From a sanitization standpoint, SSDs have changed the landscape of data sanitization. Solid state recording technology is insensitive to magnetic degaussing. which has been a popular private sector data sanitization technique.   

Back Thru The Future provides both mobile and plant based shredding services to NIST standards. 

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