Data Remanence: What is it?

What is data remanence? It is a question that you may not have thought of before. Or you may not have even heard of data remanence before, but it can cause your business serious issues.

In this article, we will explore these issues, but also ways you can ensure your data risk management takes data remanence into account. We will answer:

  • What is data remanence
  • How can it impact businesses?
  • Can you stop it?

By taking steps to understand and address the issue, you can help protect your business from the risks associated with data remanence.

files for destruction

So, what is data remanence?

Data remanence is the residual data that remains after a file is deleted. It can impact businesses in a number of ways, from decreased productivity to legal and compliance issues. The good news is that there are steps you can take to mitigate the risks associated with data remanence.

The first step is understanding what data remanence is and how it can impact your business. Once you have a better understanding of the issue, you can develop a plan to address it.

What causes data remanence?

There are a number of factors that can cause data remanence. The most common is simply deleting a file without first shredding it. Even if you empty your recycle bin, the data is still there on your hard drive. Other causes include:

  • Physical damage to storage media
  • Improperly sanitising or disposing of storage media
  • Logical errors that prevent data from being overwritten

Below we go into more detail about what you can do to guarantee that your data is deleted.

How can it impact your business?

There are a number of ways that data remanence can impact your business, from decreased productivity to legal and compliance issues.

Data remanence can decrease productivity by causing files to be accidentally overwritten or deleted. In some cases, data remanence can also lead to the corruption of files. This can cause your employees to waste time trying to recover lost data or recreate corrupted files.

Data remanence can also cause legal and compliance issues for your business. If sensitive data is not properly deleted, it can be accessed by unauthorised individuals. This can lead to privacy breaches and fines from regulatory agencies.

It is something that most businesses do not take seriously enough. Especially small businesses. They may not have the budget for correct disposal or have the right knowledge to understand that they could be in serious danger of being sued if data is not deleted properly.

How to mitigate the risks of data remanence

There are a number of ways to mitigate the risks associated with data remanence. This is otherwise known as sanitising your sensitive data. Sanitising your data can be done through:

  • Data erasure software
  • Physical media destruction
  • Data encryption

Data erasure software

One way is to use data erasure software to securely delete files. This type of software overwrites the file multiple times, making it impossible to recover the data. Overwriting has long been a way to remove sensitive files from devices. However, there are complications to using such a method.

The first is that data erasure software can be expensive. The second is that it can take a long time to erase large files. And finally, if the data is not erased properly, it can still be recovered.

Improper erasure is usually from some areas of a disk being inaccessible to the software. So, be aware that although overwriting can be effective files may be retrievable with advanced techniques.

Physical destruction

Another way to mitigate the risks of data remanence is to destroy the storage media physically. This can be done by shredding, crushing, or melting the media.

This is a more expensive option than data erasure software, but it is also more effective. It is important to note that physical destruction should only be done by a certified company. Attempting to destroy the media yourself could result in data being recovered.

Data encryption

Another way to address data remanence is through data encryption. This process encodes data so that it can only be decrypted by authorised users. Even if someone were to access the encrypted data, they would not be able to read it without the proper key. This is a way to protect your data without deleting it. If you need the data completely removed, use one of the other methods.

Data encryption is a good way to protect your data, but it is not foolproof. The data can be accessed if the encryption key is lost or stolen. Additionally, if the data is not encrypted properly, it can still be recovered.

Stop data remanence before it starts

The best way to deal with data remanence is to prevent it from happening in the first place. This can be done by properly disposing of storage media, encrypting data, and using data erasure software.

By taking these precautions, you can ensure that your data is safe and that your data risk management strategy is secure. And, if you ever need to delete it, you can be confident that it will be gone for good.