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Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Data Destruction

It was reported in one of the security forums that a Hospital Trust has been fined for a data breach which exposed patient and staff information.

Apparently the computers were taken out of service and given to a company which promises to erase all data before reselling the hardware.  This is carried out free of charge and any monies are realised from the sale of the hardware.

In this instance the hard disks were not wiped and the data was intact when sold on eBay.  On examination it was found that several other computers still contained data.

The Hospital Trust failed to check that the hard disks had been destroyed by shredding as had been promised.

WEEE disposal free of charge can seem attractive, but we urge anyone using this service to witness the hard drive destruction and obtain a certificate of destruction.   There is the temptation by these companies to merely check that the computer works before offering it for sale and not even erasing data in a secure manner.  This maximises the amount of cash realised for the equipment; sadly it does nothing to protect the sensitive data that may be on the equipment.  It was the Trust’s responsibility to check that data was not compromised; hence the fine.

We, at Quality Matters, do not send any computers containing hard drives for disposal.  We remove all hard drives and have these shredded before sending the remaining hardware to a licenced WEEE disposal site.  This does involve some cost but we know that no data can be compromised.

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