Despite all of the buzz surrounding data-retention technologies, tools that destroy data could wind up being just as important to IT shops in the future.
Today, thanks to government regulations such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, data retention has become a key goal for many IT shops.
Data-destruction tools, with the capability to quickly invalidate and eradicate data remotely, could be used to give IT managers better control of their data, even when data is out of their physical reach.
Today, when hardware leases expire or when equipment needs to be shipped back to a manufacturer for repairs, IT managers have to go through the tedious process of destroying the data volumes on their storage systems and reformatting the disks to ensure that the data that used to reside on them can never be recovered.
Some IT managers even resort to physically destroying their storage media before disposing of it, using a high-powered magnet or an old-fashioned power drill.
Using a data-destruction tool, an IT manager can get rid of data sitting on legacy hardware and feel at ease when it leaves the data center.
With advent of outsourcing, the need for data-destruction tools will be extremely important.
As overseas outsourcing continues to grow, IT organizations will literally lose touch with their storage systems and data.
Storage vendors need to create functionality that allows IT managers to destroy their data remotely and quickly.
If you need a reason to see why this is important, you can read about the problems UCSF Medical Center had in October 2003 after an outsourced subcontractor in Pakistan got into a payment disagreement with the centers original transcription contractors.
Instead of going through legal channels to seek reparations, the overseas subcontractor retaliated by telling the medical center that she would release patients confidential medical records if she didnt get paid more.
Im sure any company placed in a sticky situation like that would have loved to be able to remotely destroy its data.
Currently, the only solution Ive seen on the market that fulfills this need is Decrus CryptoShred technology, which puts heavy encryption on storage units—fileshares, volumes or tapes—and can destroy the recovery keys on demand to make the data unreadable.
Im sure that other software and hardware solutions will pop up to destroy data in the future, but until then, IT managers need to hammer out strict data-management guidelines for their outsourced data.