An IT Destruction Audit Trail – How to Simplify the Process

August 23, 2018 at 2:47 pm by Heidi White

HDD-degaussIf you deal with sensitive drives, the NSA/CSS requirements for destruction of classified and higher drives requires that they first be degaussed by an NSA approved degausser and then physically destroyed. This 2-step process is not complete without the third critical step: documentation/destruction audit trail of everything destroyed. Therefore, you must properly document before you degauss and then destroy.

An important part of any HDD/SSD media destruction program is the accurate creation of a complete end of life audit trail.  Until now it has been up to the operator of the degausser/destruction equipment to fill out the appropriate tracking form by hand, recording the serial numbers of the drives destroyed so there is a record of who, what, where and when they were destroyed.  This is a very time-consuming and tedious process, and one that is prone to unintentional errors in the serial numbers recorded.  The need for accuracy in this documentation is extremely important in the event of an audit or the need to track a specific drive — especially a classified one.

The iWitness is a plug and play documentation tool that is both accurate and time-saving

Whether you have ten drives or 10,000 drives to destroy, an easy way to streamline the process and dramatically increase the speed and accuracy while gathering additional information on the specific drive’s destruction is to automate the process using the SEM iWitness audit-friendly media tracking and end-of-life documenting solution.

The iWitness is a simple plug and play, end-of-life documentation tool for IT destruction. The iWitness consists of a laptop with a 15” screen, a handheld barcode scanner, and pre-loaded iWitness software, and is the only system that is fully SCIF compliant right out of the box.  This SCIF compliant system is completely stand-alone and does not need to connect to a network. The software is installed on a guest account, the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are disabled, it has no cameras, and writes to a CDR — absolutely no USB is required. The iWitness system is the ideal solution for classified environments and SCIFs.

The iWitness comes complete with a laptop, scanner, and pre-loaded software

The process is simple: just scan an HDD or SSD bar code and the software records the media and documents the erasure status and gauss level, after which the information can be exported to a cross-compatible CSV file and saved to a CDR or, if preferred and not in a SCIF, a USB drive. The iWitness not only keeps an audit trail, it also prompts the operator through every step of the process, so no step is missed. The software records manufacturer, model, serial number, destruction method and device used, operator name, time, and date.  In addition, the iWitness can be easily customized to record additional drive information as required.

This machine is compatible with the SEM EMP-1000HS and EMP-1000 degaussers, as well as the entire line of SEM HDD/SSD crushers, shredders, and disintegrators. It can also be used with non-SEM destruction devices if preferred. When used with an SEM degausser, the iWitness system provides erasure verification by recording the Pass/Fail status and the magnetic field strength communicated directly from the degausser via a barcode displayed on the degausser’s LCD panel, which can be scanned with the iWitness to confirm sanitization.  This is an exclusive compatibility feature of SEM degaussers; however, competitive degaussers can also be used without this feature.

The SEM iWitness offers a full-featured solution to the cumbersome chore of filling out various documentation forms, making your audit trail recording a breeze. The iWitness complies with all major security requirements including NIST SP 800-36/NIST SP 800-88, PCI DSS, HIPAA, FACTA, FISMA, PIPEDA, GLBA, California Senate Bill 1386, and FCC standard. If time savings, increased recording accuracy, operational simplicity, and regulatory compliance are important to your organization, the SEM iWitness would be a great addition to your media destruction program.


Mike Wakefield, Southeast Regional Sales Manager, has over 34 years of sales experience, 25 of which have been with SEM, and he is a Subject Matter Expert in data destruction and government contracting. Throughout his career at SEM, Mike has worked with key clients including the federal government, U.S. military, defense contractor community, and Fortune 500 companies. Mike prides himself on being able to anticipate new markets and emerging technologies while also working with the intelligence community to meet current and future needs, all while protecting the environment.

Published by

Heidi White

Heidi is Director of Marketing at SEM and is passionate about data security, health and fitness, and her family.

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