Is Your Hardware Trash Secure?

By Jon Tanguy - 2014-10-15

Data security isn’t just about protecting the data you want to keep. Once you store anything, that hardware—and its retirement—becomes part of your data protection strategy. Believe it or not, tens of thousands of HDDs and SSDs are retired by corporations every day! These old drives cannot simply be thrown away. The data must be completely irretrievable before they’re thrown out, so that no one can rummage through the trash and find valuable data.

With older technology like magnetic hard drives, elaborate and time-consuming electronic or magnetic methods must be used to securely eliminate data when the device is retired or repurposed. Many data centers require expensive hardware shredding at retirement to ensure data elimination.

Solid state self-encrypting drives (SEDs), like our client SSDs, can vastly simplify and accelerate the retirement of storage devices. With SEDs, data elimination is as simple as changing the encryption key on the drive. The encryption key is a 256-bit code stored in memory that allows the drive to unlock the data cipher. Without it, the data is a meaningless encrypted jumble. This “cryptographic erase” process takes only seconds and leaves the bits on the drive completely unreadable by any known decryption method. Of course, we also offer methods for securely wiping the entire drive. The high performance of our SSDs (and the way data is recorded on SSDs) makes this process much more efficient than the multi-pass erase runs required on HDDs.

You can read more about the differences between erase commands and how data is handled in our technical brief on Securely Erasing SATA SSDs.

For direct instructions on how to use the Parted Magic utility to perform a security erase on Micron SEDs, read this tech note.

Jon Tanguy

Jon Tanguy

Jon is a Senior Technical Marketing Engineer for Micron's Storage Business Unit, with a focus on client solid state drives.