Secure deletion of data.

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80
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11answers
19k views

Why didn't OSes securely delete files right from the beginning? And why do they still not do this?

After decades of hearing that "delete" does not really make the data impossible to recover, I have to ask WHY the OS was not corrected long ago to do what it should have been doing all along? What is ...
63
votes
8answers
16k views

How can I reliably erase all information on a hard drive?

As storage technologies change over time, using different encodings and remappings to deal with sector errors, the best way to permanently erase/wipe/shred data changes also. Methods for flash drives ...
58
votes
4answers
35k views

Why is writing zeros (or random data) over a hard drive multiple times better than just doing it once?

Lots of different programs, such as Darik's Boot and Nuke, let you write over a hard drive multiple times under the guise of it being more secure than just doing it once. Why?
50
votes
3answers
21k views

Is it enough to only wipe a flash drive once?

According to the documentation for the "diskscrb" command for wiping conventional hard drives: http://www.forensics-intl.com/diskscrb.html "Conforms to and exceeds the Government Standard set ...
33
votes
6answers
63k views

Can wiped SSD data be recovered?

I was reading another post on destroying IDE drives, and how you could remove data, wipe it, or just destroy the drive. The removed data would still be there in some state, although not easily ...
22
votes
3answers
3k views

To what extent does formatting a disk (securely) remove its data?

If the goal is to make data no longer retrievable, how secure is it to format the disk? I assumed formatting the disk overwrites free space (thus making it a safe bet no one's going to be able to ...
22
votes
4answers
2k views

Is a file shredder/secure erase necessary when you have full disk encryption turned on?

The password manager that I use has instructions to migrate to a new file format: Export existing passwords to a temporary text file Change password manager to new format Import passwords from ...
20
votes
1answer
2k views

I forgot to shred a file before deleting it (on Windows). How do I shred that part of file system now where the file was located?

My company has a policy that files have to be shredded after they've been read. They provide with a tool shred.exe that I run on the file and it overwrites it with garbage in the file system before ...
19
votes
4answers
4k views

Why is writing zeros (or random data) over a hard drive used when writing all ones is more beneficial? [duplicate]

As far as I know, in order to securely delete the hard drive's contents, one should fill it with zeroes or, for added security and harder recoverability, random data first and then all zeroes. In ...
17
votes
2answers
1k views

Secure wiping of EEPROM and flash memory

Older magnetic storage exhibited some data remanence, so a recommendation emerged to wipe data by overwriting it multiple times with varying patterns — the “Gutmann wipe”. More recent hard disk ...
14
votes
11answers
18k views

I'm leaving my job and want to erase as many personal details etc. as possible; any tips?

Obviously this is very open-ended. But, I'm just paranoid about people going through everything on my laptop after I leave my job. Here are the things I'm planning to do: Completely wipe all browser ...
12
votes
2answers
15k views

What is the difference between ATA Secure Erase and Security Erase? How can I ensure they worked?

I'd like to wipe a stack of drives (spinning and SSD) securely. I'm familiar with the ATA Secure Erase (SE) command via hdparm, but I'm not sure if I should use the Security Erase (SE+) command ...
12
votes
2answers
1k views

Ensure data doesn't linger after being deleted

I'm trying to make a service that keeps as little data on its users as possible. To that end, I want to make sure that someone using forensic tools won't gain any more information than I would by ...
11
votes
3answers
2k views

Why are drives overwritten three times when being disposed of? [duplicate]

I am looking at the secure disposal of old flash drives, and one of the standards I have come across says that they should be overwritten three times. Why is one time not enough? I assume doing the ...
11
votes
2answers
953 views

“Encrypt and wipe” procedure on Android Lollipop?

I know a lot of people are advocating an "encrypt and wipe" procedure for selling used Android phones. But according to the AOSP website, in Android 5.x Lollipop: Created fast encryption, which ...
10
votes
1answer
4k views

How to properly delete all data from cell phones?

Lately I've been thinking to get rid of some old smartphones; among them an Android device and a Blackberry. Not selling or recycling them is the ideal solution, however, I still would like to know ...
9
votes
6answers
16k views

How do I securely erase USB flash drives?

I would like to know if there is a way to securely erase USB flash drives without a chance to recover data from it once it has been erased. I know, that programms like DBAN can be used to securely ...
8
votes
2answers
582 views

Are there any filesystems that have secure deletion as a feature?

There's many 3rd party tools people have designed to perform secure deletion, but I don't know of any filesystems where secure deletion is built in. In fact, secure deletion has to work around ...
8
votes
3answers
4k views

Can someone tell if you delete deleted files?

I am aware that to delete something completely we will have to use a program that over-writes the deleted file such that it is unrecoverable. Is there anyway to tell that this has happened? Or is the ...
7
votes
2answers
2k views

ATA security erase on SSD

Is it possible to recovery data from SSD, that was secure erased (https://ata.wiki.kernel.org/index.php/ATA_Secure_Erase), by IT or professional data recovery company? Does this type of erasing ...
7
votes
3answers
2k views

How can files be deleted in a HIPAA-compliant way?

Any material I've come up with for data destruction standards relate to completely wiping (ATA Secure Erase) and physically destroying hard drives, but I haven't been able to find much about standards ...
7
votes
2answers
193 views

Magnet to wipe HDD [duplicate]

This question is for HDD, not SDD. Would a Neodymium magnet like this one be strong enough to wipe the contents of a hard disk drive? How long would such an act take to destroy any data so it's not ...
6
votes
8answers
448 views

A computing environment that saves no data

I want to use a laptop which doesn’t save any data, history, passwords anywhere in it. All state information should be destroyed once it is turned off or rebooted, without removing my ability to use ...
6
votes
3answers
227 views

Disk Erasing Security - Odd Number of Writes

As one can find in the Disk Utility/Erase/Security Options section, there are two options for erasing disks securely - zero out 7 times or zero out 35 times. Where these numbers come from?
6
votes
1answer
116 views

Method for securely removing files from a solid state drive

I've thought of a method for securely erasing single files on a solid state drive. This method will work only if the drive is encrypted, and it will work even if someone cracks the encryption key for ...
5
votes
4answers
541 views

What's a good secure file deleter

I've used cipher \w which is built into Windows to overwrite free space but I'm looking for a tool that securely deletes files which have not been deleted yet. It would be a plus (but certainly not ...
5
votes
6answers
7k views

Overwriting hard drive to securely delete a file?

I am working on a computer that I am not allowed to install new software on. It does not have secure delete software installed. Suppose I have a file (or files) that are sensitive that I'd like to ...
5
votes
2answers
959 views

Is it nescecary to wipe and reset the MBR when laptop changes owners even if full disk encryption is used?

Where I'm currently working we use full disk encryption and after a laptop transfer owners we use a secure erasure program. This is quite time consuming and I'm wondering is it necessary? For the disk ...
5
votes
2answers
191 views

Wiping a computer of personal information while keeping the operating system intact

I have a unique situation but will try form this as a generally applicable Q&A: I must leave my Operating System intact, but completely wipe my information from the computer. How can I do this? ...
5
votes
2answers
101 views

How to avoid local caches when I open encrypted files

For personal usage I tend to keep things that I want to hide or protect in rar archives encrypted and protected with a password. Today I launched an antivirus scan, and as result it found malware in a ...
5
votes
1answer
5k views

How secure is the Windows 8 “Reset your PC” function?

Windows 8 has a feature to "Reset your PC" so that if someone needs to give their computer away, the recipient won't be able to recover data. How secure is it?
5
votes
3answers
83 views

Are files deleted before encrypting then formatted able to be retrieved?

On a drive I have a folder of files, I then just soft delete these files (not wiping them or overwriting with any data). After I soft delete them I encrypt the drive and wipe it with a single quick ...
5
votes
1answer
117 views

What method could a white-box attacker use to track the deletion of memory / files?

A rather theoretical question: Assuming there is memory with a malware inside it. The malware's goal is to detect if a legit application is about to delete contents of the memory. If recognized, the ...
4
votes
1answer
877 views

Is data-remanence a concern in RAM?

I know data-remanence is a concern on hard drives, but is it a concern on RAM? For example, once a program completes, is its data still available on RAM, just as data on a hard drive remains after ...
4
votes
5answers
4k views

Is running an erase tool after an OS install sufficient to ensure no data from the old install is recoverable?

How secure do you consider this process? A drive has data from a previous OS installation. A new OS installation is made on the drive, and Heidi Eraser is run on free space. What are the chances ...
4
votes
1answer
129 views

Overwriting disk with random data vs. encrypted zeros

Most disk encryption guides recommend to overwrite the disk with random data before encryption, this is discussed here. However the time this takes with the "standard" source of random data can be ...
4
votes
3answers
175 views

Safely remove original file after encryption

My application encrypts a file, and the result is written to a different one. How do I safely remove the original one (C++)? Update. Wow! The problem is more complicated than I thought of it... 1) ...
4
votes
2answers
125 views

What are the benefits of having multiple overwriting patterns for secure deletion? [duplicate]

When installing a new AIX server, there is a possibility to use several patterns for secure deletion. My question: Is it necessary to use several patterns? What is the benefit from having several ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

Can you securely wipe an SSD by filling the remaining space with bogus data? [duplicate]

It's been established that, thanks to our good friend Mr. Wear Leveler, wiping data from an SSD is very difficult. I understand that the one thing you don't want to do is actually attempt to shred ...
4
votes
1answer
81 views

What is the security significance of Keyboard and Touchpad controller chips?

In this article from Privacy International, it indicates that when GCHQ undertook the task of destroying sensitive data on system belonging to the Guardian newspaper, in addition to the Storage media, ...
4
votes
0answers
65 views

Cases where DBAN has won

Are there any real life cases where software such as DBAN (to securely erase disks) has beaten government/law enforcement agencies? I found this online which lists each time encryption has beaten ...
4
votes
0answers
1k views

How can you remove your presence from the Internet? [duplicate]

How can you remove your presence from the Internet? For example from social networks, from email servers, from forums etc. Problem is how records of you are identified on the internet? We have well ...
3
votes
2answers
575 views

Is it a security issue that Thunderbird only logically deletes emails?

I have several e-mail accounts configured in Thunderbird. I just wanted to move an e-mail from one of my e-mail accounts [A] Trash folder to another accounts [B] Inbox folder. Because the moved e-mail ...
3
votes
1answer
432 views

Why does UNIX `shred` command rename files to 000, then 00, then 0 before deleting?

I was using shred to get rid of some files and I noticed that it did the following: shred: 0000: renamed to 000 shred: 000: renamed to 00 shred: 00: renamed to 0 Does anyone know what's the point ...
3
votes
1answer
6k views

Does microwaving a hard drive erase it?

Kind of a silly question, but I'm genuinely curious: (in part because I recently saw several questions that refer to "nuking" a hard drive...) what would a microwave DO to an HDD? Would it erase data ...
3
votes
3answers
1k views

Protect partition from formatting

How can i protect my Linux and Windows partitions from being wiped,from a windows installation CD,with password?
3
votes
1answer
3k views

Secure erase iOS devices

All iOS devices from the iPhone 3GS have a hardware encryption chip, right? When you erase an iOS device with the "Erase All Content and Settings" menu item or via Remote Wipe the encryption keys are ...
3
votes
3answers
852 views

How do I prevent SSD file recovery?

I use a Kingston V300 SSD (specifically SV300S37A) According to this answer The 'best' modern drives support a vendor-specific secure erase functionality. Examples of this are Intels new 320 ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

Shutdown: Clear virtual memory pagefile

I was reading about Windows Local Policy of "Shutdown: Clear virtual memory pagefile". I need some clarification on this brief policy description: What do it mean by operating system that allow ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

How do you erase a Blackberry without having direct access to the server?

I have a Blackberry with no access to the BIS or BES server that managed it. How does one erase and reset the device to defaults?