Managing Data Retention: Developing a Secure Information Lifecycle Strategy

With rapidly expanding data volumes, effectively managing retention and disposal is critical for security, compliance and operational efficiency. However, without data lifecycle strategies aligning storage to governance policies, organizations struggle balancing accessibility needs with security obligations.

This guide provides pragmatic steps for security leaders seeking to implement secure information lifecycle management programs.

Classify Information by Sensitivity

The first priority is developing a data classification methodology cataloging organizational information assets based on sensitivity and business impact.

Effective classification involves:

  • Documenting data types, use cases and legal obligations.
  • Establishing tiered sensitivity labels aligned to handling standards.
  • Applying classifications to information via metadata tagging or container policies.

Exactingly categorized data streamlines compliance while enabling precision access controls.

Define Retention Schedules

Once classified, retention periods can be defined per data type covering both primary storage duration as well as archived requirements.

Implementing retention schedules necessitates:

  • Referencing regulatory and contractual storage obligations by classification.
  • Identifying destruction requirements based on sensitivity.
  • Configuring infrastructure to automatically enforce retention policies.

Automated expiration adherence reduces legal oversights while limiting data leakage windows.

Secure Data Disposal

Upon retirement, proper data destruction is imperative, especially for sensitive assets, to prevent posthumous exposure.

Methods like cryptographic erasure and physical destruction of storage media should be standardized through:

  • Documenting sanitization procedures by classification tier.
  • Utilizing appliances ensuring complete and auditable erasure.
  • Engaging specialist disposal services for assets containing regulated data.

Absolute and provable data removal caps lifecycles enabling asset repurposing without breach liability.

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