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Cornell University

Dispose of High Risk Data

This article applies to: Security & Policy

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Data Disposal

Old information is risky information! Watch out for and regularly dispose of unneeded information:

  • Social Security numbers used as general identifiers (this was often the case in the past)
  • Data you think you've disposed of, lurking in backups
  • Files from previous users on shared computers 

There are right and wrong ways to dispose of high-risk data. Follow recommend procedures to be sure that it's really gone for good.

On your computer

Before disposing of high-risk data, you must find it. At Cornell we use Spirion to do this. See Find high-risk Data on my Computer. Identity Finder securely destroys files when you shred them, so using Identity finder is the best choice.

On paper

Destroy documents using a secure disposal service or a cross-cut shredder. See Handle Paper Documents with high-risk Data.

On old hardware (computers and devices)

Whenever possible, we recommend using Cornell's FREE R5 service to safely destroy media. See Safely Dispose of Old Computers and Devices.


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At Cornell we value your privacy. To view
our university's privacy practices, including
information use and third parties, visit University Privacy.