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The integration of data collection and analysis tools into modern manufacturing environments has revolutionized how companies operate, while also creating new cybersecurity challenges. While manufacturers rarely gather personal information, their systems and devices capture, process, and store information using various inputs and media. This data is located not only on designated storage media, but also within devices used to create, process, and transmit this information.

These systems and devices filled with sensitive data that may be valuable to cyber criminals. This risk is forcing manufacturers to implement media protection policies to mitigate the risk of unauthorized information disclosure, maintain confidentiality, and ensure production equipment isolation from other forms of exploitation.

Media Protection Policies

When protecting active confidential or sensitive data, businesses can create Media Protection policies. These policies generally cover how to use, store, and transmit data in a way that maintains confidentiality and integrity during authorized use.  However, when a device is retired or removed from the network, businesses should practice information sanitization. In this situation, many companies use the NIST 800 80 guidelines for media sanitization to further protect confidential data.

The principles found in the NIST SP 800 80 Revision 1 guidelines assist in properly safeguarding all confidential data from incidental disclosure. In contrast, many would think that merely erasing a hard drive would be enough to protect their sensitive data. Experienced cyber criminals can still recover sensitive data from hard-drives with relative ease. When systems, devices, and storage media become obsolete, it is vital to ensure that residual magnetic, optical, electrical or other data deleted is not easily recoverable.

Media Protection security principles established in NIST SP 800-53. Security controls related to media protection include media: i) policies and procedures, ii) access, iii) marking, iv) storage, v) transport, vi) sanitization, vii) use, and viii) downgrading. (SP 800-53, Appendix F-MP).

Why is media sanitization necessary?

As businesses incorporate more technology into their environments, companies will also learn that these technologies do not last forever. When storage mediums such as tape or hard-drives need replacing, businesses will copy and move the data to a newer drive. Once copied, many individuals think that merely erasing the storage medium will remove all the data. Erased devices still contain sensitive data, even if you cannot see it on a computer. Services and programs exist where individuals can recover data from various storage devices. With media sanitization, not only are the devices wiped, but they are left unusable afterward. Depending on how data is stored, multiple methods can ensure that no data is recoverable.

NIST 800 88 Guidelines for Media Sanitization

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What is NIST 800-88?
The National Institute of Standards and Technology Special Publication 800-88 Revision 1 guides organizations in making practical sanitization decisions. Depending on the level of confidentiality that a manufacturer requires, NIST media sanitization guidelines cover different methods and procedures for how to sanitize the devices and storage mediums.

What is media sanitization?
Media sanitization refers to a process that renders access to data on the media infeasible for a reasonable level of effort. Information disposition and sanitization decisions occur throughout the information system life cycle.

What is data destruction?
The process of destroying data stored on your hard drives, tapes, and other electronic media, in a manner that the data is no longer readable. This process prevents unauthorized users from accessing sensitive information after a piece of hardware has been repurposed or decommissioned. While merely deleting the data will make it inaccessible to your operating system,
a skilled hacker can quickly retrieve the information.

Clear Data Destruction Recommendations

We can help you improve your media protection policies by offering clear data destruction recommendations that are efficient and cost-effective. Information disposal, media disposal, storage security, purge, and media sanitization all relate to media protection decisions. Our cybersecurity specialists understand the data security and will work with you to create a program that can ensure your storage devices are properly managed throughout their operational lifespan.

Selecting the Right Data Destruction Method

When an IT asset is on the verge of retirement, it’s essential to consider how your information security team will deal with the stored data. If your company relies on a third-party cybersecurity service provider, it’s necessary to verify the exact data destruction processes.

A lack of visibility can leave your business open to potential risks, including data theft and credential exploitation. At Certitude Security®, we work alongside your internal or external IT team to evaluate the data destruction measures in use and provide comprehensive guidance to maintain your information security. Some of the data sanitization measures we advocate for include:

Media Sanitization Software

This method of data sanitization erases all available data, then fills the entire medium with random data. Writing fake data prevents malicious users from accessing or recovering previously stored data on any device. Media sanitization software offers manufacturers the ability to sanitize their devices on-site.

Degaussing

Degaussing is a specialized method of media sanitization, as this method alters the magnetic field of certain storage mediums. This method of media sanitization is most effective on hard-disk drives and tape drives. The benefit of this approach is that it allows you to reuse tapes that do not have prewritten tracks. Degaussing is also considered the most cost-effective option.

Physical Destruction

Sometimes the most straightforward solutions are the most primitive ones. Physical destruction is, of course, the destruction of both the device and storage mediums. This method can include shredding storage tapes and crushing hard-drives. In some cases, businesses will perform multiple rounds of physical destruction. Physically destroying storage devices prevents unauthorized access, as the storage medium is no longer in a useable form.

Improving Your Media and Data Protection Strategies

End-to-end data protection is essential to manufacturers of all sizes, which is why it’s critical to choose a data destruction company that aligns with your company’s operational scope and business objectives. Narrowing down your options can be a challenge, as every company has different standards, costs, and disposal methods. Ensuring that the data stored on your equipment is appropriately wiped or destroyed is crucial, so be sure to verify the credibility of your service provider and ask for a certificate of destruction for each device you send out.

We continue to observe manufacturers who overlook the general process of removing data from storage media, in a manner consistent that there is reasonable assurance that the data may not be easily retrieved and reconstructed.

We have years of experience with media protection and data destruction, enabling us to locate comprehensive solutions that match your unique needs. We help our clients maintain strong information security by ensuring data destruction companies and external IT teams uphold best practices that will protect your data in the long term.

Data-bearing devices are sanitized and verified to NIST SP 800-88 R1 requirements per NIST SP 800-53 CSF.
The process meets the NIST 800-88 federal guidelines for media sanitization.

Reduce data theft and credential exploitation with verified data destruction procedures. To learn more about our media protection services, contact us today.

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