July 17, 2023

The Dangers of Data Hoarding: Is Your Company at Risk?

In recent years, the amount of data generated and stored by organizations has increased dramatically, creating new challenges for businesses in terms of data management and security. According to a study by IDC, the Global DataSphere is expected to more than double in size from 2022 to 2026. With this surge in electronically stored information (ESI), it's important for organizations to appropriately secure and dispose of information to help avoid the pitfalls of data hoarding.

The Risks of Excessive Data Storage

The more data a company stores, the higher the chances of a physical data breach or cyber-attack. By accumulating data without proper management, organizations can expose themselves to several risks, including:

Non-Compliance With Privacy Laws

Privacy laws and regulations may require some organizations to protect certain sensitive or personal data they use or generate in the workplace for specific time periods or using particular methodologies. To help them stay compliant with such obligations, companies should implement appropriate retention and destruction schedules for their confidential documents.

Decreasing Storage Costs and Unnecessary Data Retention

The cost of storing ESI, whether via cloud-based solutions or on-premises hard drives, has declined significantly. According to Backblaze, the cost per gigabyte of hard drive storage decreased by 56.36% from 2017 to 2022. This trend can lead some organizations to adopt a "keep everything" mindset, which may result in the accumulation of unnecessary and redundant data. For example, the 2021 Financial Services Data Risk Report found that, on average, 70% of all sensitive data of the financial services companies surveyed was stale. Storing data that has no commercial purpose can contribute to an increased security risk.

Improper Disposal of Old Hard Drives

Organizations frequently upgrade their technology, but many fail to securely dispose of old IT equipment and hard drives, potentially leaving sensitive information at risk. Although some businesses may believe that erasing, wiping, reformatting, or degaussing information is sufficient to protect data on hard drives, these methods are not foolproof. Information thieves can still recover data using specialized software, making proper hard drive destruction essential for data security.

One of the most effective methods for disposing of old hard drives is to have them physically destroyed using a professional hard drive and media destruction service. A hard drive destruction service like Shred-it® offers state-of-the-art destruction in two forms, crushing and shearing, subject to local availability. Both destruction methods leave the data unrecoverable. Crushing involves punching an unfixable hole in the device with 7,500 lbs. of pressure, which breaks the magnetic surfaces. Shearing breaks the device or hard drive into pieces with 40,000 lbs. of force.

Overlooking Other Office Equipment

Printers, copiers, and other office equipment often contain hard drives that store data. Organizations should be aware of the potential risks associated with stockpiling sensitive information on these devices. Similar to computer hard drives, ones in other pieces of office equipment should be securely destroyed by using a professional service.

Practices for Responsible ESI Management

To help ensure data security and avoid the dangers of data hoarding, organizations should:

  1. Create a culture of information security supported by all levels of management.
  2. Conduct risk assessments to identify potential vulnerabilities in the handling of sensitive data.
  3. Regularly clean out storage facilities and establish policies for protecting information on leased equipment.
  4. Implement a comprehensive document management process for all storage devices, including mobile devices.
  5. Provide ongoing employee training on data security best practices.
  6. Partner with a reputable information destruction company that offers secure hard drive and e-media destruction services. A professional service provider will issue a Proof of Service confirming your devices have been collected.
  7. Use security plan reminders to help improve office and hard drive security. Secure unneeded hard drives with reliable hard drive destruction services.

Learn more about how Shred-it® can help you protect your physical data with secure hard drive destruction services.