Governments and public sector organisations spending millions on destroying data storage devices

New Blancco report pushes for SSD policy reform, revealing financial and security concerns for public sector organisations

Posted 10 March 2022 by Christine Horton

UK government and public sector organisations are spending £5 million a year on destroying and replacing solid-state drives (SSDs), a data storage device used both independently and within laptops, desktops, and servers.

The Price of Destruction: Exploring the Financial & Environmental Costs of Public Sector Device Sanitization from Blancco Technology Group surveyed 596 government IT leaders across nine countries.

The UK sample size of 70 organisations surveyed represents 11 percent of central/regional/local government organisations in the public sector in the UK – meaning the costs for the whole sector are even higher, says Blancco.

The research shows that government and public sector organisations globally spend as much $17 million annually on the physical destruction of SSDs. Replacement costs added another $40 million, bringing expenses up to $57 million for destroying public sector technology that Blancco argues is often still usable.

Security concerns

For security reasons, physical destruction is still mandated if decommissioned drives were used to store classified or secret data. For unclassified data-bearing assets, other data sanitisation solutions are available.

Seventy-eight percent of respondents globally said they reformat drives to sanitise them. However, Blancco argues that formatting alone can still leave drives vulnerable during transport or storage, and much of the data can be recovered with forensics tools easily available online.

“Governments and public sector organisations are responsible for handling some of the most sensitive information in the world. But several factors, including accelerated digital transformation, rising numbers of public sector data breaches and global sustainability initiatives, are changing the data management landscape,” said Alan Bentley, president of global strategy, Blancco.

“With growing environmental and funding pressures, there is a need for these public sector operations to be more sustainable and efficient while maintaining robust security. Public sector organisations must explore SSD sanitisation alternatives to demonstrate prudent use of agency funds and a greater contribution to national and international sustainability efforts.

“We’ve seen several public sector departments benefit from moving away from destroying data bearing assets to reusing them or building up the circular economy. Our study highlights that there are significant opportunities for policy reform surrounding SSD data protection as national policymakers seek to steward financial, environmental, and data resources entrusted to their care,” added Bentley.