Magneto-optical discs: CDs CANNOT be purged. If classified information is stored on a CD, it is
Part K. Declassifying Computer Media
Declassification, as used in AR 380-19, is an administrative procedure. Before a floppy disk on which
classified information has been stored can be treated as unclassified material, it must be purged.
Then, the ISSO must verify that the method of purging meets the requirements of Tables 2-1 and 2-2,
AR 380-19, and that all classified information has been TOTALLY purged. Them are risks involved
with purging and declassifying computer media:
Time and temperature: If classified information has been stored on magnetic media for an extended
period of time, or if the magnetic media is stored in high temperature conditions (120 degrees
Fahrenheit or greater), it is more difficult to erase the information completely.
Equipment software, or human error: An approved degausser may not work. The ISSO may not follow
the directions on using the degausser. A computer program may not overwrite all locations on a hard
Damaged media: If you store classified information on a hard disk and then drop it on the floor, you
have a problem! If the hard disk is damaged, it will probably not be possible to purge it.
NOTE: Given their low cost and the risks involved, destruction of floppy disks is more
appropriate than declassifying.
Part L: Nonremovable Storage Media
Paragraph 2-22a, AR 380-19, says "Using a computer with nonremovable, nonvolatile media for
processing classified information is discouraged."
Explanation of terms: These two terms, "nonremovable" and "nonvolatile," may be new to you, so let
us take a look at what they mean.
Removable media: Floppy disks, CDs and certain models of hard disks are designed to be easily and
routinely removed by the user.
Nonremovable media: Hard disks, computer chips, and other components which can store
information, and are not designed to be easily and routinely removed by the user. They can be
removed only by taking the computer apart These are also called "fixed" media Unless we take the
PC apart a "fixed" hard drive stays where it is.
Volatile computer media: Computer media which lose the information stored in them when electric
power is removed. Most PCs use volatile RAM (random access memory) to store the information
which is being processed. That's why you lose all the information you are working on when you have
a power failure.