By Tim Wilson
Oct 30, 2008
The widespread process of erasing data storage tapes and "recertifying"
them for sale isn't safe and could cause enterprises to expose sensitive
business data, a major tape vendor said yesterday.
Imation, which makes tape cartridges and other storage media, says
there's no way to completely erase the data that has been recorded on
"Today's tape cartridges have storage capacities of 500 gigabytes or
more. Even if 99.9 percent of data is erased from a tape, hundreds of
megabytes of potentially sensitive data could remain on the tape," says
Subodh Kulkarni, vice president of global commercial business, R&D, and
manufacturing at Imation. "This could include thousands of customer
names and Social Security numbers."
To prove its point, Imation purchased 100 recertified tapes from
mainstream channels and scoped each one to see what data it could find.
According to its report, the company found sensitive data from a major
U.S. bank -- including employee credit card records, computer user
names, and server inventories. It also found detailed patient
information from a major U.S. hospital, field research data from a
scientific research center, and details on the Human Genome Project from
a large university.
"In our lengthy testing and analysis, which has spanned many months, we
have confirmed industry guidance that the only way to properly dispose
of data is to destroy the media itself," Kulkarni says. "The technical
truth is there is no practical and secure way to completely erase and
'recertify' most used tape products."
Visit the InfoSec News Security Bookstore
Best Selling Security Books and More!