5.6 - Safe Disposal of Data

The General Reference
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There are various pieces of legislation to be aware of that regulate the disposal of data:

  • Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE): Regulates the process that should be taken when disposing of harmful materials found in electronic devices and ensuring they don't harm the environment.
  • Waste Acceptance Criteria (WAC): A criteria that tests the risks of material disposal before it is sent to landfill.  
  • Data Protection Act (DPA): A set of rules that ensures user's data is held securely and disposed of in a timely manner. It also makes sure user's consent to their data being stored. 
There are also many methods of disposing of data safely and securely:
  • Overwrite data: Where data is deleted and replaced with new data. This means that the device can still be used afterwards but the data can often be recovered afterwards with the appropriate technology and skills.
  • Electromagnetic wipe: A method in which a device called a degausser uses an electromagnet to permanently erase all the data on a hard drive. 
  • Physical destruction: Where a storage device is physically broken. This could involve shredding of the device or smashing it up with a hammer. This makes the device unusable so the data cannot be accessed.

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