Privacy: NIST data erasure standards update

The American National Institute of Standards and Technology (NSIT) has released Special Publication 800-88 Revision 1, Guidelines for Media Sanitization, which outlines procedures for identifying and applying secure data erasure to various forms of media including paper, desktop and notebook PCs, and mobile devices of various flavours. For the home user who’s concerned about identity theft and/or who wants o re-gift, reuse, or resell their technology, this is an essential read.

Of particular interest are the flowcharts on identifying the appropriate method of media disposal – Clear, Purge, or Destroy – and the tables identifying particular instructions for enacting those methods on various devices. From my perspective, I would use these as both a guide for ensuring appropriate data erasure and as a buyer’s guide – the easier it is to perform a non-recoverable data wipe on a device, the more likely I am to view it as an option for purchase because its safe reusability is high and the likelihood that I’ll have to destroy it to  prevent an information leak is low.

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