NSYS Group

Data Remanence: Causes, Risks, and Solutions

How to eliminate data remanence risks for your used device business?

Security of personal data should be a top priority for anyone working with pre-owned smartphones. Simply deleting files from the device is not enough, as it doesn't guarantee the irrecoverability of sensitive data. Today, let's discuss data remanence, its causes, risks, and solutions for ensuring irrecoverable data erasure.

What is Data Remanence?

Data remanence is a term related to data left on the device after wiping. Data remnants may exist in various places on the operating system, putting sensitive information at risk of exposure to malicious intent.

Preventing data remanence is especially important for businesses that operate with used devices as they are responsible for erasing data from large volumes of phones. When selling a pre-owned phone, you need to provide customers with proof that data erasure was successfully performed on the device. This practice will ensure the quality of the device and increase customer trust.

What is Data Remanence?

What is the Cause of Data Remanence?

When you delete a file on your phone, it is not immediately destroyed. This is done so the user can quickly recover the file if it was deleted by mistake. Then, if the data wasn't recovered in some time, usually in 30 days, the files are erased automatically.

However, even if a file is no longer in the recycle bin, that doesn't mean it was properly erased. And it certainly doesn't mean file data cannot be recovered.

When a file is deleted, the operating system removes only the file's entry but leaves the actual data on the storage media. Although this is not secure, it is simple and fast. When new data is added to the device, it replaces residual data. So, before these places on storage devices are rewritten, the data can be accessed.

Additionally, most operating systems create backup copies of files so they can be restored when needed. It is also common that metadata is left even when the file is erased. This additional information makes it easier to recover data. Because of that, specific software can read direct disk sectors, even without recovering the information.

Where is the Residual Data Stored?

To ensure data remnants are destroyed, it is crucial to understand where they can be left on the device.

Deleted data, before it was replaced, can be found in various places of the operating system, such as:

  • Hard drive spaces like free space and file slack space
  • Master File Table (MFT)
  • Temporary System Data Storage, etc.

What are the Risks of Data Remanence?

Recovering sensitive data from pre-owned devices can endanger the person or company it belongs to. Here are the main risks that are associated with data remanence:

Data Breaches

The leaked data may damage the reputation of the individual or company involved. However, the data of an average person, such as payment card number, can also be used by fraudsters. Therefore, preventing personal information theft should be a priority not only for businesses and governments but also for each of us.

Financial Loss

Sensitive data can be used for fraud and extortion. In terms of the used device business, that means financial responsibility for sensitive data leaked from sold devices. To prevent that, use top industry software that erases data irrecoverably in accordance with international standards such as ADISA and NIST 800-88. For example, NSYS Data Erasure solution eliminates risks associated with data leaks.

Reputation Damage

Depending on the data leaked it may or may not damage the reputation of the person or company it refers to. However, it will 100% affect the reputation of those responsible for data destruction on the device, lowering customer trust. Therefore, use certified solutions to mitigate this risk.

Legal Issues

A data breach is an obvious sign that a company neglects data protection regulations. In such cases, the legal consequences are provided to compensate for reputational and financial losses and, most importantly, to establish data management in compliance with governmental regulations.

What are the Risks of Data Remanence?

How to Prevent Data Remanence Risks?

The risks mentioned above put your business in danger, so choosing the solution to mitigate them is crucial. Let's consider the most effective and profitable options:

Destruction of Physical Storage

The method guarantees the irrecoverability of data due to the complete physical destruction of the storage device. The most common ways to destroy the device are shredding, crushing, and degaussing it.

Although it may be used in some cases, this is not a go-to option. Destroyed devices cannot be reused and are usually difficult to recycle, making the method unsustainable and impractical.

Sensitive Data Encryption

Data encryption is an option to consider to prevent data remnants from being recovered. This way, the information won't be readable, and non-authorized users won't be able to use it for personal gain. However, this step should be implemented in advance before deleting the information. For this reason, it cannot be applied to used device businesses.

Certified Data Wiping Solution

The most up-to-date solution that is now available is data erasure software solutions. They provide irrecoverable data destruction in compliance with advanced industry recommendations. Using these solutions prevents data remanence and eliminates risks associated with it.

Moreover, this is the only way to irrecoverably destroy data for used device businesses. Using data wiping software that obtains third-party validations will prolong the device's lifecycle, making it safe and easy to sell.

What are the Challenges of Data Remanence Elimination?

There are several challenging factors that need to be considered while choosing the method of destroying data remnants:

  • Inaccessible areas. Overwriting data in such areas might be problematic due to difficulty accessing them.
  • Optical media. These media types cannot be erased with overwriting and need specific physical destroying methods.
  • SSDs data. Most modern software solutions are inefficient for media sanitization on such devices.
  • Advanced storage systems. In some systems, overwriting, especially on a per-file basis, won't prevent data remnants. 
What are the Challenges of Data Remanence Elimination?

What Data Destruction Software to Choose?

To ensure the data is erased irrecoverably, use solutions that are compliant with guidelines such as NIST 800-88. This standard includes multiple rewrites of data storage, which results in complete irrecoverability of data. Therefore, such data sanitization guidelines eliminate data remanence risks.

The great option is NSYS Data Erasure, which is NIST- and ADISA-certified. The solution provides fast, safe, and secure data destruction from Android and iOS devices. For each phone or tablet, you will get a data erasure certificate to confirm that the process was conducted in accordance with international standards and regulations.

Moreover, with NSYS Data Erasure, you can process multiple devices simultaneously. Connect up to 60 devices to one PC. Essential feature for a business!

Try NSYS Data Erasure by clicking the button below!

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