Flash hard drive
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Flash hard drive

A flash hard drive is a data storage device that uses flash memory instead of spinning platters to store data. It is related to a solid state drive and is similar to conventional hard drives in terms of shape, size and interface. The flash memory cells tend to fail after a approximately one million writes however this problem is addressed with wear leveling techniques which involves relocating data in highly utilized storage areas to areas that have been less utilized.

Flash hard drives are slowly entering the market but have a long way to go before they can replace the conventional hard drive. It is assumed that flash hard drives will grow in popularity as the cost decreases and the performance needs of consumer electronics continue to increase.

There are no standards which state how the data on flash drives should be erased. The drive can be erased by using the manufacturer’s security settings or one of the following methods listed below can be used.


Existing methods of removing data from flash hard drives


  Software overwrite Physical Destruction
Description This process works by overwriting the data with a combination of 1´s and 0’s. The level of security depends on the number of times the entire media is written over. It is best to use certified software that provides detailed reporting of the erasure process such as Blancco software. Can be accomplished using a variety of methods, including disintegration, incineration, pulverization, shredding, melting, sanding, and chemical treatment.
This method does not actually destroy data but makes the drive inoperable preventing data recovery. It should be carried out at an approved facility by trained and authorized personnel.
Advantages
  • Flash drive can be reused
  • Increases the remarketing value of the IT asset to which it belongs
  • Several flash drives can be erased simultaneously by using an erasure station
  • Software tools that provide detailed reporting of the erasure process are able to validate the erasure of every flash drive.
  • Fast and convenient way to erase data
  • Can be performed in-house
  • An effective way of destroying data if carried out correctly
  • Large amounts of flash drives can be destroyed at once
Disadvantages
  • Cannot be used if the the flash drive is damaged or is not writeable.
  • Most software tools do not provide detailed reporting of the erasure process therefore providing no audit trail
  • Many freeware/shareware tools exist which perform an incomplete erasure putting a company at risk of a data breach.
  • Flash drive cannot be reused and is therefore not an environmentally safe approach.
  • Reduces the remarketing value of the IT asset to which it belongs
  • Usually has to be outsourced to a third party therefore compromising data security as theft and uncontrolled handling can lead to unauthorized exposure of confidential data
  • The time period between the physical destruction of hard drives can create an internal storage and security challenge.
  • Physical destruction does not provide reporting of the erasure process which is needed to prove regulatory compliance