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Protecting Sensitive Information Processed and Stored in Information Technology (IT) Systems



Shirley M. Radack


This bulletin explains the need for media sanitization, which is the process for removing confidential data from storage media, with reasonable assurance that the data cannot be retrieved and reconstructed. NIST recommendations to help organizations and individuals securely manage the information processed and stored on devices and media are discussed. Topics covered include the available sanitization methods, the different types of media, techniques for removing data, and methods for disposing of media. Also covered are issues related to the procedures and principles that influence decisions about media sanitization, and to the conduct of the decision-making process within an organization. References to NIST publications that assist in the information technology (IT) planning process, the secure handling of media, and the protection of the confidentiality of information are provided.
ITL Bulletin -


clearing media, Disposal of media, information confidentiality, information security, information technology, media sanitization, purging media, security categorization, storage media


Radack, S. (2006), Protecting Sensitive Information Processed and Stored in Information Technology (IT) Systems, ITL Bulletin, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed November 28, 2023)
Created August 30, 2006, Updated January 27, 2020