Our old tape drives have failed and we not using tapes for backup anymore. We still have a stack of DLT tapes with backups which may contain sensitive information like credit card numbers, social security numbers, etc.
How do I responsibly dispose of these backup tapes?
If I had a working drive I would be tempted to dd from /dev/urandom to the tape device, but the drives have failed. Would this be a good method if the drive was still working? What do you recommend I do with these tapes given that I have no working drive for them?
Clear magnetic tapes by either
re-recording (overwriting) or
degaussing. Clearing a magnetic tape
by re-recording (overwriting) may be
impractical for most applications
since the process occupies the tape
transport for excessive time periods.
Clearing by Overwriting: Overwriting
should be performed on a system
similar to the one that originally
recorded the data. For example,
overwrite previously recorded
classified or sensitive VHS format
video signals on a comparable VHS
format recorder. All portions of the
magnetic tape should be overwritten
one time with known non-sensitive
Degauss using an NSA/CSS-approved
degausser. Purging by Degaussing:
Purge the magnetic tape in any
degausser that can purge the signal
enough to prohibit playback of the
previous known signal. Purging by
degaussing can be accomplished easier
by using an NSA/CSS-approved degausser
for the magnetic tape.
Incinerate by burning the tapes in a licensed incinerator
Preparatory steps, such as removing
the tape from the reel or cassette
prior to destruction, are unnecessary.
However, segregation of components
(tape and reels or cassettes) may be
necessary to comply with the
requirements of a destruction facility
or for recycling measures.
When I first took over at my current job, we had well over 100 old backup tapes. I borrowed a huge magnet from the hardware store, the kind on wheels that is used to roll through a yard to pickup nails after a re-shingle. Anyway, I zapped them all with that. Then tossed them into the trash
I have always read that would work, but I havent tested it. I probably should have spot-tested a couple of them.
Not that this answers the question as asked by the OP, but for the benefits of anyone else reading this question, easy disposal is one of the fringe benefits of encrypting my backups: when I need to dispose of the tape, I tear the first few inches of tape off to make casual scanning difficult, then drop the rest into any old bin.
I was given a faulty 12" 1000W speaker with large heavy magnet. I put 4 tapes on at a time. Leave overnight. Strip the first 3 feet off by hand then bin them. Try your local disco equipment center for faulty speaker, should be able to get one with exposed magnets for £5. PS The tapes were encrypted.