How Chain of Custody Is Critical to Electronic Data Destruction

August 24th, 2022

technology wrapped in chains with a lock

Have you ever wondered what happens to the old IT equipment your company disposes of? The data destruction process is much more involved than throwing replaced hardware in the trash. When electronic data is disposed of, a comprehensive chain of custody takes place on the path to destruction. But what does that mean, and why is a chain of custody important? To familiarize yourself with the chain of custody, here’s an overview of its process and importance to data security.

What Is Chain of Custody?

In a nutshell, the chain of custody process records the entire journey that disposed hardware takes—from the time it leaves the possession of its previous owner to its destruction. The chain of custody keeps track of every pertinent detail of the travel, including when the equipment leaves, who enters contact with it, the time it’s destroyed, and other information. By creating a paper trail, individuals are able to receive full transparency of the disposal process. Apart from IT hardware, many other assets containing sensitive information, like legal documents, also have a chain of custody process.

The Chain of Custody Process

To ensure there is thorough tracking for discarded items, there are various documentation steps throughout the chain of custody process. Not only is the hardware protected so that nobody can access it, but it is also scanned for identification purposes. Additionally, the discarded items are scanned to establish proof of where they were originally picked up. While driving to the destruction facility, a GPS system can track the vehicle’s route for a complete record.

After the equipment reaches its destination, a video monitoring system in the facility can provide surveillance to record video evidence of the destruction. The individual in charge of the destruction will be identified, as will the time and method of dismantling. Once the chain of custody process concludes, you’ll receive a certificate of destruction that proves the procedure was compliant with regulations.

Why Is the Chain of Custody Important?

As evident, a lot of documentation is involved in the chain of custody. But why do people go to such lengths when destroying old IT equipment? It primarily involves the sensitive data stored on the devices. If this information enters the wrong hands, it can become a serious privacy concern. With the chain of custody, you can have peace of mind knowing that eyes are on your old hardware throughout the entire disposal process.

Beyond providing extra security, a chain of custody is also important for legal purposes. There are many legal requirements and standards—including HIPAA, among several others—that require evidence of regulatory compliance. If there is a data breach during the disposal process, the chain of custody will provide extensive documentation so that any areas of weakness can be identified. Given how expensive regulatory fines are for privacy breaches, a detailed chain of custody is a must for any company handling sensitive data.

If you’re searching for certified data destruction to safely dispose of your old hardware, reach out to Keystone Technology Management today. We offer various services, and you can contact us to sell used IT equipment too. Call us today to learn more about disposing and/or selling your old hardware.