Join Mike Chapple for an in-depth discussion in this video Data lifecycle, part of CompTIA Security+ (SY0-601) Cert Prep: 5 Physical Security Design and Implementation.
- [Instructor] The data life cycle is a useful way to understand the process that data goes through within an organization. It covers everything from the time that data is first created until it's eventually destroyed. You can think of the life cycle as a way of viewing the data journey from cradle to grave. In the first stage of the life cycle, create, the organization generates new data, either in an on-premise system or in the cloud. The create stage also includes modifications to existing data. From there, the second stage of the lifecycle is store. In this stage, the organization places the data into one or more storage systems. Again, these storage systems may be either on premises or with the cloud service provider. The next stage, use, is where the active use of data occurs. Users and systems view and process data in this stage. In the fourth stage, share, data is made available to others through one or more sharing mechanisms. This might include providing customers with a link to a file, modifying access controls so that other employees can view the file or similar actions. When the data is no longer being actively used, it moves on to the fifth stage, archive. In this stage, data is retained in long-term storage where it's not immediately accessible but it can be restored to active use if necessary. And in the final stage of the life cycle, data is eventually destroyed when it's no longer needed. This destruction should take place using a secure disposal method. Let's dig into this last stage of the data life cycle a little more deeply. Data destruction must be done in a secure manner to avoid situations where an attacker obtains paper or electronic media and then manages to reconstruct sensitive data that still exists on that media in some form, The National Institute for Standards and Technology provides a set of guidelines for secure media sanitization in special publication, 800-88. It includes three different activities for sanitizing electronic media. Clearing is the most basic sanitization technique and it consists of simply writing new data to the device that overwrites sensitive data. Clearing is effective against most types of casual analysis. Purging or wiping is similar to clearing, but it uses more advanced techniques and it takes longer. Purging might use cryptographic functions to obscure media on disk. Purging also includes the use of degaussing techniques that apply strong magnetic fields to securely overwrite data. Destroying is the ultimate type of data sanitization. You shred, pulverize, melt, incinerate, or otherwise completely destroy the media so that it's totally impossible for someone to reconstruct it. The downside of destruction of course, is that you can't reuse the media as you would with clearing or purging. Here's a flow chart that can help you make decisions about what type of sanitization technique to use. It comes from the NIST guidelines and it's widely used throughout government and industry. You begin the flowchart at one of three locations, depending upon what classification of information was on the media and then you walk through a series of decision points based upon whether you plan to reuse the media and whether it will leave your organization. The flow chart then leads you to advice on clearing, purging, or destroying the media. You should also destroy paper records when they reach the end of their useful life and you have some different options at your disposal here. Paper records may be shredded using a cross-cut shredder that cuts them into very small pieces that would be very difficult to reassemble. Pulping uses chemical processes to remove the ink from paper and return it to pulp form for recycling into new paper products. And paper can be incinerated, although burning paper is less environmentally friendly because it creates carbon emissions and unlike pulping or shredding, burned paper can't be recycled. If you don't want to handle data sanitization and destruction yourself, there are third party services available that offer outsourced data destruction services. While we do describe this process as a life cycle, it's important to note that the stages of the life cycle are not always followed in order and not all of them occur for every piece of data. For example, it's possible to create new data in memory, use it there and then destroy it without ever storing it in a repository. Similarly, data might be permanently retained in active storage and never reach the archive or destroy stages. However, the life cycle is still a useful model for understanding the different stages of data life.
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