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Information Security vs Business question here:

IT department asks me for a way to securely remove data from a hard drive because they want to sell old hardware.

I suggest DBAN as a secure wipe tool.

Problem: DBAN will remove every partition / hard drive it comes across including the recovery partition.

Question: is there a way to remove data from the "work" partition in a secure way while keeping the recovery partition?

  • Alright, so I don't know whether this would work- so don't do it- but... Open question to the room: Would something along the lines of dd if=/dev/urandom of=/dev/sda1 cut it, provided /dev/sda is the primary drive, /dev/sda1 is the primary partition, and /dev/sda2 is the recovery partition? Or is that not how that works? – Parthian Shot Jan 26 '16 at 18:25
  • I'm relatively certain that dban can wipe individual partitions. The autonuke feature deletes the whole disk, but I believe you can configure it to only delete the partitions you like. – Steve Sether Jan 26 '16 at 18:44
  • @SteveSether can you name the option specifically, because I am not familiar with this option, as far as I know DBAN does not offer partition wipe – user3244085 Jan 26 '16 at 22:01
  • @ParthianShot apparently that should be quite secure, see superuser.com/questions/118439/… – user3244085 Jan 26 '16 at 22:05
  • @user3244085 Well, sure. I'm just not sure whether it would corrupt the partition table or something awful like that. He wants the recovery partition to remain bootable. – Parthian Shot Jan 27 '16 at 0:35
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Disks do not always map a logical address to the same physical location, especially SSDs. When a remap has happened, the physical location with data may not even be accessible to user programs like DBAN. Specialised make/model-specific tool will be required and they most often can only do full wipes.

So the only real safe solution is to clone the recovery parition to a new drive and destroy the old one. Of course whether you do this depends on how sensitive/valuable the data is and what kind of potential threats you want to defend against.

A more economical workaround is to clone the recovery parition (and partition table/MBR) to another media, fully wipe the original using the correct tool and clone the partition back.

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