NIST releases guidelines for sanitizing files

The National Institutes of Standards and Technology has released a new publication that provides guidance on disposing of files. Special Publication 800-88, "Guidelines for Media Sanitization," gives agencies assistance to ensure that deleted or disposed files are unrecoverable.

NIST is careful to delineate that, but gives assurances that the guide can be applied to other forms of media as well.

'It does not, and cannot, specifically address all known types of media,' stated an announcement on the website for NIST's Computer Security Division, which released the guide. 'However, the described draft sanitization decision process can be applied universally to all forms of media and categorizations of information.'

The guide is important because residual data from deleted files can be reconstructed by unauthorized users to gain access to sensitive information. NIST says proper sanitization can prevent this. The guide covers magnetic, optical, electrical and other information types.

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