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Media Destruction: Destroy CDs, DVDs, and Diskettes.

by Wayne Porter

Should I shred my old CDs, diskettes and floppy disks? The short answer is- yes!

You should treat your magnetic media just as you would paper media. Don?t throw them out in the trash without shredding or destroying them. In today?s digital world more and more people are backing up their computer?s contents to magnetic media. This content includes banking information, tax records, correspondence and important personal files. One DVD or CD is a treasure trove of vital information for a criminal looking to practice identity theft.

Types of Media Destruction

Degaussing: The media is passed over a high-powered magnet. The data is destroyed, but the media is unharmed. Useful if you want to recycle your media. Used in business settings.

Data Wiping - The data is destroyed using data erasure software. The media is then reformatted so it can be used again. This is a good method but not as secure as physical destruction because some forensics software can recover wiped fragments.

Physical Destruction: The best method if you want total peace of mind. The media is sent through a shredding device with very sharp blades. Depending on the strength of the shredder the output is either small strips, or tiny bits of unreadable plastic. We prefer the latter.

Tips on Protecting and Shredding Media

Lock Down Files: Your first line of defense is to protect sensitive files or archives with a strong password. Even if you lose control of the media the hacker will have to be sophisticated to get into your private information. The password should contain a string of letters, digits and symbols of at least eight characters and should never be an easy to guess password. Avoid using words that are in the dictionary. Thieves can run ?dictionary attacks? where they rapidly scan through common words and attempt to brute force your password.

Avoid adding a digit in front or at the end of a word or reversing a word as they are not good password choices. Nor should you use the same password over and over. If a thief should break one password, the rest of your information or files will be open. If you have used the same password over and over- and they compromise one file you can bet the rest will be compromised as well.

The Poor Man?s Method: This involves using a wet towel to wrap around the CD or DVD (so you don?t cut your hands) and breaking it into small pieces. Take the broken pieces of the media and discard them in different trash bins at different times for added security.

Invest in a CD Shredder: The best way to destroy a CD or DVD is to use an industrial shredder. They usually come in strip-cut or cross-cut models but we recommend the cross-cut types because they render the media virtually impossible to restore. The good news is that many small office and home office shredders now support CD destruction and are quite affordable although they can?t hold up to high volume.

If you are run a medical business keep in mind that HIPAA regulations require the shredding of all discarded medical documents including CDs and DVDs. You might also look at industrial shredders (high security) that retain the inner hub serial number so you can verify destruction of the media. If you use a service to destroy the data make sure they provide you an audit report, a certificate of destruction, and waiver of liability.
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The safe user is the wary user. It doesn?t matter what form the information is in, if it is your private information be smart and keep it private.

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