What options do agencies have to eliminate classified magnetic media, outsource vs. in-house?

November 30, 2011 at 9:34 am by SEM

When it comes to eliminating classified magnetic media, a government IT
Security Manager must put a process in place that ensures the media is properly
destroyed and disposed of. To some, the options may be limited in getting this
done. As required by NSA, classified magnetic media must be degaussed using an
NSA evaluated degausser and then it is highly recommended to physically destroy
the device. Most agencies will choose to eliminate their classified magnetic
media in one of two ways, “In house” or “Outsource”. These options are usually
weighed based on cost and level of security.

Agencies that eliminate their magnetic media in house will purchase the
necessary equipment and create a program to perform the destruction. In most
cases, Security managers prefer in house destruction because the media is never
transported outside classified areas, where it is at risk to be lost or
breached. Although these programs require agencies to purchase equipment
up-front for their program, it eliminates the cost of having to coordinate high
security transportation of the media, including cleared escorts and secure
transportation. They can also take advantage of the high recyclable value of
various magnetic storage drives.

While agencies can choose to outsource their magnetic media destruction,
often by sending it to NSA or another classified agency with “in house”
capabilities, it is both risky and more costly. Why? Outsourcing requires them
to schedule secure shipment and cleared escorts every time the media leaves the
classified area for transport. This process can be expensive and time consuming.
Since it can be difficult at times for an IT security department to secure
up-front funds for their own equipment, agencies find it easier to spend less
money for each shipment and stay within their monthly operating budget. However,
many agencies justify creating their own in house program by weighing the long
term costs vs. buying their own equipment. Outsourcing can also add unnecessary
security risks by transporting the media outside of classified areas.

There are many options for those of you with classified magnetic media, make
sure you’re in the know! Feel free to contact Security Engineered Machinery.

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