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67

Physical destruction of a drive is tricky business. There are many companies that deal specifically in the field of data destruction, so if you are doing any kind of mass you may want to at least look at their price list. If you contract, make sure the company is properly bonded/insured, and provides audit trails for each destroyed item. In the worst case ...


63

Best stop doing that. Never overwrite an SSD/flash storage device completely in order to erase it, except as a last resort. NVRAM has a limited amount of write cycles available. At some point, after enough writes to an NVRAM cell, it will completely stop working. For modern versions, we're in the ballpark of an estimated lifespan of 3,000 write cycles. ...


32

Special firms either degauss, destroy or melt the harddrives. Harddrives are magnetic data. Magnetism can be destroyed by either: Degaussing (changing the magnetism) Heating the drive (melting) (which destroys/changes the magnetism) Hammering (shock) (shock damages magnetism somewhat, but the denting of the drive makes it very difficult to read the ...


25

The only NIST approved method to securely erase a hard drive is by utilizing the secure erase internal command - documented at the Center for Magnetic Recording Research (CMRR) - and that is what everyone should be doing. It is an ATA command, and covers (S)ATA interfaces. After that, you can optionally degauss the drive to erase the firmware itself. Lots ...


20

The worst thing you can do is tearing them apart. It's time consuming and attacker just needs extra time and patience to put pieces together. The same rule applies for shredding - if after shredding are left too large pieces, again, attacker just needs time and patience. There are several shredding techniques (from wikipedia) Strip-cut shredders, ...


20

The proper answer for this question is very situational, and dependent upon the policies and procedures in place at your company. Many companies have in place methods of backing up portions of the drive meant for user data, or even the entire drive, across the corporate network. If they've performed such backups on your system, there's nothing you can do ...


18

Overwriting the data is either insufficient or useless, depending on how things are done internally by the device itself. Flash memory has a limited life, expressed in terms of read/write cycles. To sum it up, you can have one block of data full of zeros; bits can be changed from zero to one individually, but the reset to zero can be done only for a complete ...


15

Modern research seems to indicate that performing a single zero-pass of a hard drive is sufficient for most data dispositions. In which case, no, performing a file or partition encryption would not be faster. Except in the case of hardware accelerated encryption (such as the newer Intel i series processors) encryption speed is CPU bound, whereas a single ...


14

From a theoretical standpoint the idea of total drive destruction may be the only way of destroying data on a hard drive fully. From a practical standpoint, I've not seen any evidence that it's possible to recover meaningful data from a standard hard drive (ie, not taking SSDs or other devices that use wear levelling or similar technologies) after a once ...


12

Burning is a cheap and effective way to get rid of this data. Included are some links to some burning standards: US Army Data Destuction (Check out Section V) http://www.apd.army.mil/pdffiles/r380_5.pdf (Search for "burn") http://kdla.ky.gov/records/Documents/Destruction%20Guidelines.PDF One of the biggest issues with burning is that you end up with ...


11

If time is the constraint, then use time as the solution. One Time Passwords can use time-synchronization as a factor. You could design a system whereby a OTP algorithm is required, but use the time-sync portion not only to verify the OTP, but also as a check to see if the time threshold has been exceeded.


11

Let's dispense with the "if it can be copied" part first. I can start with a camera and work my way down from there. I can also enlist a sufficient number of monks, nevermind digital media. You're on a track with radioactive decay. If you can arrange a sufficiently large key that is represented by a number of decaying radioisotopes and arrange that key ...


10

As storage technologies change over time, using different encodings and remappings to deal with sector errors, the best way to permanently erase data changes also. Very smart people have expended enormous amounts of time and effort arguing over this problem. Most of them end up at the same bottom line, which is: the only method you can truly trust is ...


10

You've described the principles behind a live CD boot. This can be most strongly ensured by having no permanent media within the machine. I'm going to gear my answer towards Linux as that's what I'm most familiar with in this context. Having a hard drive with all disk partitions mounted as read-only and all read-write partitions mounted in memory would also ...


10

No. Submerging a hard disk drive into water or any other non-corrosive liquid will do nothing to its platters that would render data recorded on them irretrievable. It will most likely ruin hard drive's logic board (controller and other circuitry on its PCB), but that's not too hard to replace. Hard drive platters' magnetic recording surface is most ...


9

Do you need to erase the data, or do you need to persuade other people that the data has been erased? (I will only talk about 'entire disk' wiping; I'm not talking about wiping single files or slack space.) As far as I am aware there is no software package that claims to be able to recover data that has had a single overwrite. There are no companies that ...


8

Your hard drive will undoubtedly contain toxic substances which if heated or burned will be released into the air, not a good thing. If you did this in your oven you would never want to use your oven for food again! Much better to take the entire drive as is and simply chop it into many pieces. A sheet metal shear should be able to slice through it like ...


8

I'll put my proper IT hat on - still just about fits - and suggest you could try asking your IT team what their process is - the answer might reassure you. Typically, IT are going to make a "just-in-case" backup of your drive and put it on a shelf ("just-in-case" management realises a year after you've gone that you had a file on your drive that is ...


8

I think that while @Scott is absolutely right - these days, unless you need a multi-pass for regulatory reasons wiping data is fast - the much simpler solution is to have the entire drive encrypted using a strong passphrase, then lose the passphrase when you need to destroy the data. Your risk will be around someone having a copy of that passphrase. Other ...


8

We use 3 primary methods of media destruction. Which method that is chosen will, of course, depend on any number of factors including; corporate policies regarding data handling, legal or regulatory requirements, corporate policies regarding equipment refresh/retirement, time constraints, physical condition of the device, etc. Secure Deletion This would ...


8

I just came across this thread by accident. By chance I've had exactly this problem recently. Instead of buying an expensive high quality shredder like the above suggests I tried disposing of everything in a big bucket of water. To speed up the process, i used a blender to make it into a soup-like consistency/paste. I also added some bleach for good ...


8

As long as you open up the drive so your corrosive product can remove the magnetic coating from the platters then this should work. It will, however, be much slower than the other mechanisms you mention, and will be harder to test for completion. Shredding is the fastest and easiest to confirm complete - it takes a few minutes and leaves you with dust. ...


8

If I understood what you want correctly, in special the hard drive example, then no. Because if someone was able to read the message during some time, it means that he was able to save it form the computer to a flash disk, print it, extract it from the computer memory, copy it using pen-and-paper, photograph, audio/video record it, memorize it, speak it ...


7

SSD's and Flash drives are an interesting problem... As @Bell pointed out as a response to this question: Yes, the effectiveness of the shredding operation is dependent on a fixed or physical mapping between a block number and piece of non-volatile storage. This works for spinning media but not for SSDs which virtaulise their blocks for performance ...


7

1) With modern filesystems, there is no more concept of securely deleting an individual file. It might have been copied around, snapshotted, written to a different location upon editing, etc. 2) With modern drives, there is no deletion / wipe without confirming it. Some drives have had a Secure Wipe command flat-out lies to you, returning immediately while ...


7

It looks like you are already aware of the 1st part of this question. For most purposes any non-volatile storage which may have held he data you consider sensitive should be included (solid state drives, hard drives, EPROMS, USB keys etc) but volatile memory should not. These storage devices could be in printers, fax machines, routers, switches, any ...


7

If you use sdelete from Microsoft (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb897443.aspx) you don't have to install anything. It has an option to fill the unused disk space with zeroes too. If you already deleted the files this is what I'd just to make sure that nothing remains of the original file.


6

There is a good list of options here PC Pro’s top 10 hard disk destruction methods you've got quite a lot of options depending on how extreme you want to be and what tools you have access to. Personally I unscrew the HDDs take out the platters and then use them for coffee coasters if they haven't got anything massively sensitive on them.



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