Data security doesn’t end with EOL.

Businesses spend billions on cybersecurity every year, many forget about the risk their EOL assets pose. There are several frameworks for maintaining security in the disposal of EOL assets, and one of the most popular is the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Special Publication 800-88, more commonly known as the NIST 800-88.

About NIST 800-88

NIST 800-88 was first published in 2006 as “Guidelines for Media Sanitization,” a document aiming to provide organizations with clear, practical recommendations for securely disposing of electronic media. It was published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, an agency of the US Department of Commerce. Revision 1 was published in 2014 and covers categorizing information by confidentiality. It is an established framework, accepted by businesses across many industries.

What Does NIST 800-88 Entail?

NIST 800-88 outlines best practices for sanitizing various types of media, including hard disk drives, solid-state drives, magnetic tapes, optical media, and even mobile devices. The publication categorizes data sanitization methods into three main categories:

  1. Clearing: Involves overwriting data on the media with nonsensitive data patterns, effectively rendering the original data unrecoverable using standard drive recovery techniques.
  2. Purging: Entails applying specialized techniques to render data recovery infeasible using laboratory techniques. This includes physical destruction, degaussing and cryptographic erase methods.
  3. Destroying: Involves physically destroying the media to ensure data recovery is not possible. This can include shredding or incinerating the media.

NIST 800-88 emphasizes the importance of selecting appropriate sanitization methods based on factors such as the sensitivity of the data, the type of media and the intended future use of the media.

Importance of Proper Data Security in End-of-Life IT Assets:

Improper disposal of end-of-life IT assets poses significant risks, including:

  • Data Breaches: Failure to securely dispose of IT assets can result in unauthorized access to sensitive information, leading to data breaches and regulatory penalties.
  • Legal Compliance: Compliance with data protection regulations such as GDPR, HIPAA and GLB requires organizations to implement appropriate measures for data disposal.
  • Reputational Damage: Data breaches resulting from inadequate data disposal practices can damage an organization’s reputation and erode customer trust.

NIST 800-88 serves as a comprehensive framework for ensuring the secure disposal of end-of-life IT assets. By adhering to its guidelines and selecting appropriate data sanitization methods, organizations can protect sensitive information, mitigate risks, and uphold regulatory compliance.

With more than 17 years of global ITAD experience, CentricsIT offers sustainable and secure ITAD services. With a reputation for excellence, Our team prioritizes customer service and making the ITAD process as simple—and secure—as possible. We maintain multiple certifications, including ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 45001 and R2v3 to demonstrate our commitment to our clients, to our employees, and to the environment. For more information, contact us.


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