Sanitization Types

Sanitization Types

NIST 800-88 international security standard (Guidelines for Media Sanitization) defines different types of sanitization.

Regarding sanitization, the principal concern is ensuring that data is not unintentionally released. Data is stored on media, which is connected to a system. Simply data sanitization applied to a representation of the data as stored on a specific media type.

When media is re-purposed or reaches end of life, the organization executes the system life cycle sanitization decision for the information on the media. For example, a mass-produced commercial software program contained on a DVD in an unopened package is unlikely to contain confidential data. Therefore, the decision may be made to simply dispose of the media without applying any sanitization technique. Alternatively, an organization is substantially more likely to decide that a hard drive from a system that processed Personally Identifiable Information (PII) needs sanitization prior to Disposal.

Disposal without sanitization should be considered only if information disclosure would have no impact on organizational mission, would not result in damage to organizational assets, and would not result in financial loss or harm to any individuals. The security categorization of the information, along with internal environmental factors, should drive the decisions on how to deal with the media. The key is to first think in terms of information confidentiality, then apply considerations based on media type. In organizations, information exists that is not associated with any categorized system. Sanitization is a process to render access to target data (the data subject to the sanitization technique) on the media infeasible for a given level of recovery effort. The level of effort applied when attempting to retrieve data may range widely. NIST SP 800-88 Rev. 1 Guidelines for Media Sanitization Clear, Purge, and Destroy are actions that can be taken to sanitize media. The categories of sanitization are defined as follows:

Clear applies logical techniques to sanitize data in all user-addressable storage locations for protection against simple non-invasive data recovery techniques; typically applied through the standard Read and Write commands to the storage device, such as by rewriting with a new value or using a menu option to reset the device to the factory state (where rewriting is not supported).
For HDD/SSD/SCSI/USB media this means overwrite media by using organizationally approved and validated overwriting technologies/methods/tools. The Clear pattern should be at least a single write pass with a fixed data value, such as all zeros. Multiple write passes or more complex values may optionally be used.

KillDisk supports Clear sanitization type through the Disk Erase command for all R/W magnetic types of media, more than 20 international sanitation methods including custom patterns implemented and can be used.

Purge applies physical or logical techniques that render Target Data recovery infeasible using state of the art laboratory techniques.
For HDD/SSD/SCSI/USB media this means ATA SECURE ERASE UNIT, ATA CRYPTO SCRAMBLE EXT, ATA EXT OVERWRITE, ATA/SCSI SANITIZE and other low-level direct controller commands.

KillDisk supports Purge sanitization type through the Secure Erase command only for media types supporting ATA extensions.

Destroy renders Target Data recovery infeasible using state of the art laboratory techniques and results in the subsequent inability to use the media for storage of data due to physical damages.
For HDD/SSD/SCSI media this means Shred, Disintegrate, Pulverize, or Incinerate by burning the device in a licensed incinerator.
It is suggested that the user categorize the information, assess the nature of the medium on which it is recorded, assess the risk to confidentiality, and determine the future plans for the media. Then, the organization can choose the appropriate type(s) of sanitization. The selected type(s) should be assessed as to cost, environmental impact, etc., and a decision should be made that best mitigates the risk to confidentiality and best satisfies other constraints imposed on the process.