Why Improper Hard Drive Disposal Can Lead to Data Breaches


Company hardware is a critical part of your organization’s security landscape. Hard drives contain sensitive information and cannot be discarded like common trash.

Data destruction means rendering data on hard drives irretrievable, ensuring that proprietary information, personal records, and confidential data are not compromised. Failure to properly destroy old hard drives can lead to serious fines and a loss of customer trust.

In 2022, Morgan Stanley paid $35 million to settle an SEC investigation, which began after an IT consultant purchased a hard drive containing Morgan Stanley data. The SEC determined that Morgan Stanley’s lapses sprung from unencrypted hard drives at decommissioned data centers. Subcontractors auctioned the hardware without wiping it, and as a result, privileged customer and company data was exposed.

To avoid similar repercussions, your company must take the necessary steps to ensure that hard drive destruction is done correctly and securely. Electronic recycling for business is critical. 

Types of Hard Drives

Table with left and right columns explaining the differences between hard drive disks and solid state drives.

Not all hard drives are created the same. Different types require different destruction methods to ensure that they’re genuinely unusable.

Two types of hard drives exist:

  • HDDs (hard-disk drives): HDDs use spinning platters to store information and need to be physically crushed or shredded to achieve data destruction.
  • SSDs (Solid State Drives): SSDs use flash memory chips instead of spinning platters, making them more durable than HDDs. The SSD data on SSDs can be wiped with special software, but physical destruction is also possible.

Hard drives can also be classified by interface or how the hard drive connects to the computer. Common interfaces include:

  • Parallel Advanced Technology Attachment (PATA): PATA hard drives were first introduced in 1986 and have since been replaced by SATA.
  • Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA): SATA hard drives are found in most current machines.
  • Small Computer System Interface (SCSI): SCSI drives are an older type of attached storage used by long-term servers and other mission-critical systems.
  • NVMe (Non-volatile Memory Express) is a newer interface in modern PCs, video game consoles, and other devices.

Electronic recycling for business requires adapting your method to your hard drive. 

A Case Study

A graphic showing a hard drive with an X over it, and the text "Failure to properly destroy old hard drives can lead to serious fines and a loss of customer trust."

Unless you’re an expert, disposing of electronics isn’t easy. In a telling case study, a large corporation opted to have a third party handle their hard drive destruction needs. The corporation believed they had properly destroyed the hard drives themselves by drilling through the 2.5-inch SSDs.

However, even though the drill had not physically damaged the internal circuit board, the aftermath revealed a critical flaw.

Upon plugging the “already destroyed” drives into a hard-drive verification dock, it was discovered that the drives were not properly encrypted, allowing access to confidential company information. The oversight demonstrated the complexity of modern storage systems and the potential pitfalls of assuming that basic destruction methods are sufficient to ensure data security.

Today’s SSDs can be physically destroyed, but the process that worked on previous hardware iterations may not be effective now. For example, a traditional hard drive shredder will not be useful with 2.5-inch SSDs. Pulverization is preferred instead.

Electronic recycling for business is not a mere formality but a meticulous process requiring expertise and up-to-date storage technology knowledge, especially for hard drive disposal. Examples like Morgan Stanley and the abovementioned case study underscore the need for professional hard drive destruction services that employ comprehensive and foolproof techniques.

Prioritizing Data Security with ViaTek Solutions

Graphic with a hard drive photo, and the text "Speak with a data destruction specialist. Contact Us."

In a landscape where data breaches and unauthorized access are constant threats, safeguarding sensitive information demands more than just hitting the delete button or using rudimentary destruction methods. Robust data protection strategies are non-negotiable, and data destruction through proper hard drive disposal is a cornerstone of these strategies, ensuring that no remnant of sensitive data remains accessible.

ViaTek Solutions offers a comprehensive solution to this challenge. By understanding the nuances of various hard drive types and employing electronic recycling for business, we guarantee the complete obliteration of data. Choosing ViaTek ensures data security and promotes environmental responsibility through proper disposal practices.

We invite you to take a proactive step toward data security. Entrust your old hard drives to the experts, and enjoy peace of mind knowing that your data is both secure and irretrievable. Contact us today to schedule a pick-up and take a step towards robust data protection. 

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