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Your Company Probably Needs to Audit its Data Destruction Process

Having an audit performed on your business is about as fun as having dental surgery, but like unpleasant medical procedures, auditing can be just as important for the well-being of your organization.

While it appears on the surface to be much more convenient to sweep everything under the rug and carry on as usual after donating, disposing of, or upgrading IT assets, there may be a festering loophole in your business’s data destruction process that could have massive consequences later on—consequences that could devastate your business or even violate international laws.

Data regulations in the 21st century mean business

In an era when data is building at a rapid pace, the ramifications of not having thorough, traceable documentation of every single thing that happens to your data could include accountability for data breaches, security threats, and hefty fines for violating the new GDPR compliance standards. These standards set international requirements for managing and handling data, including what happens to the data when it’s time to be destroyed.

It’s paramount to have a thorough data wipe performed on all equipment containing sensitive data, not only because sensitive consumer information must be protected from theft, but also because compliance standards require it. It’s a matter of both ethics and law, and auditing can help pinpoint where improvements must be made as well as prepare for the possibility of an unexpected external audit.

Sure signs your enterprise needs to undergo an audit

A company’s leadership and information specialists should be able to readily answer the following questions:

– When is the last time your company had an audit of its data destruction process?
– Are there standardized practices in place within your IT department?
– Can you produce records of the last time you had a data wipe performed?
– In what ways can you be certain that your data destruction was completed and successful?

If any of those basic questions are met with shrugs or uncertainty, it’s time to prepare for a data destruction audit by implementing a reporting system that will reliably provide the answers.

An audit will accomplish a number of things, particularly for larger enterprises, including tying up loose ends in the data destruction process to make sure laws are met and developing a streamlined system that prevents data theft or security breaches. By pinpointing where data handling and destruction practices and procedures should be standardized, secured, and documented, companies can be fully prepared for accountability and compliance.

Don’t be deterred by price or the process of tracking and reporting

The auditing process isn’t complicated or expensive. It can be incorporated into the data destruction process by generating detailed reports showing when and where data was destroyed from end-of-life IT equipment and by whom, which is important for record keeping and proof of full compliance. Without that record keeping, there’s no way to physically track the data and ensure it was actually reliably destroyed or handled according to the proper protocol.

Data destruction tracking and reporting can be integrated into pre-existing system software using APIs, meaning companies can keep familiar tools and software in place while adding the tracking element. An audit of your destruction process will show exactly what needs to be tracked and improved, and reporting will prove that those criteria were met.

Data destruction is not something to take lightly. Any end-of-life IT assets must be properly wiped and tracked to comply with laws and standards to protect security and meet regulations. Whether the audit is internal or external, thorough reporting and documentation of the entire process will save money and potential headaches down the road.