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165 votes
Accepted

Wiping an SSD with Parted Magic seemed too quick

Modern SSDs use a technology called SED which allows instant erasure. It works by transparently encrypting the entire drive and keeping the key on the drive. ATA Secure Erase is then implemented by ...
forest's user avatar
  • 66.8k
51 votes
Accepted

Does the destruction of sensitive information limit the choice of hard drives to non-flash based devices?

Data destruction is a technique of last resort. If you are planning to use a new storage device, you should use full disk encryption. This allows you to either destroy the encrypted master key or ...
forest's user avatar
  • 66.8k
51 votes
Accepted

How can data from VirtualBox leak to the host and how to avoid it?

You are doing it the wrong way around: you have an untrusted host system running a hypervisor and you are trying to run a trusted environment inside this untrusted host. But, the untrusted host system ...
Steffen Ullrich's user avatar
48 votes
Accepted

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

Quick-formatting a hard disk simply erases the filesystem's structures and tables and writes new ones in place, giving the illusion of a brand new disk. Old data is simply overwritten as and when ...
Polynomial's user avatar
  • 135k
45 votes
Accepted

Erased encrypted HDD, then secure erased 10% of it before selling it - is it safe?

Has the data been securely erased beyond any doubt? No. Does it matter in practice? Probably not, at least for any sensible domestic/company threat model. For the purposes of this answer I will ...
Polynomial's user avatar
  • 135k
44 votes

Permanently erasing a file

Yes, most likely. However there can always be edge cases: SSDs are doing wear leveling etc., and will most probably not write your zeroes to the same cells your original data was written to. How the ...
manduca's user avatar
  • 1,111
43 votes

How to safely wipe a USB flash drive

To quote the ISM (Australia's military standards for cyber security). Security Control: 0359; In flash memory media, a technique known as wear levelling ensures that writes are distributed evenly ...
meowcat's user avatar
  • 1,359
40 votes

At what point is deleted data irrecoverable?

This depends a lot on what medium is used to store the data and what you consider "irrecoverable". "Deleting" data mostly does not what most people think it does. Simply put, after a standard ...
dmuensterer's user avatar
  • 1,184
37 votes
Accepted

How completely wipe information of overwritten files and folder?

You have to stop thinking about this on the file level. For a storage device, all that matters is the sector. If one sector on a hard drive* is overwritten, the data in it is gone for good. There is ...
forest's user avatar
  • 66.8k
29 votes

How can data from VirtualBox leak to the host and how to avoid it?

The data didn't "leak" onto the host. The data always was on the host to begin with. The files inside the guest are stored in the virtual hard drive file, and the virtual hard drive file is ...
Tanner Swett's user avatar
24 votes
Accepted

How to safely wipe a USB flash drive

Next time you're about to put sensitive data on a flash drive, consider encrypting it first! Strongly encrypted data is useless without the key, and if you securely erase the drive first, all that ...
Dmitry Grigoryev's user avatar
23 votes

Will completely wiping your hard drive remove all malware?

How deep down the rabbit hole do you want to go? For OS level malware: Sure, wiping the hard drive is fine. To be extra sure, overwrite the entire hard drive with 0s manually using a secure erase ...
Robert Mennell's user avatar
23 votes

Signal — Can message previews of the messages you send be disabled in the chats’ list of your addressee?

Signal's feature is aimed at restricting unintentional disclosure. The client itself is open source, so no one can stop me from creating a client that doesn't honor the time restrictions or similar. ...
vidarlo's user avatar
  • 16.6k
17 votes

How to safely wipe a USB flash drive

A quick check at amazon.com shows 64GB USB drives in non-designer cases go for about $20. Less if you buy in bulk. Since you want "quick and efficient" lets factor in the time needed to overwrite the ...
peter's user avatar
  • 179
17 votes

Permanently erasing a file

So the question is: If you overwrite a file's data with, let's say, just using WriteFile Win API to overwrite all data with zeros, will that become unrecoverable? Don't use the WIN API WriteFile to ...
hft's user avatar
  • 5,036
16 votes
Accepted

Privacy data concern: Facebook account appearing with a search for phone number, despite it never being added - what should I do?

There isn't much you can do about it besides deleting your Facebook profile (different from deactivating it - though I'm sure in both cases nothing is really deleted). As for how Facebook got your ...
André Borie's user avatar
  • 12.8k
13 votes
Accepted

Should a secure ATA erase be performed on a non-SSD drive?

Given that the device is not a solid state drive, should a secure ATA erase still be performed? If you want to erase the data, you can use ATA Secure Erase. It is not meant only for solid state ...
forest's user avatar
  • 66.8k
13 votes

Does the destruction of sensitive information limit the choice of hard drives to non-flash based devices?

Tl;dr: Because you can never trust all storage drives to securely wipe themselves, you must plan as if none of your drives can be securely wiped. Placing a dependency on the type of media is not the ...
John Deters's user avatar
  • 34.2k
13 votes

Permanently erasing a file

One way to dispose of a file in a 100% reliable manner is to keep it on a separate HDD partition you can purge, or, better yet, on a separate medium you can afford to destroy. If that's not practical,...
Dmitry Grigoryev's user avatar
11 votes

Permanently erasing a file

Effectively, yes, overwriting the blocks used by a file will make it unrecoverable. This can be done using sdelete on Windows, or shred on Linux.
gowenfawr's user avatar
  • 72.9k
11 votes

At what point is deleted data irrecoverable?

While the current leading answer dives into the technical details of data recovery, I will (try to) take the broader approach. How do we define "irrecoverable"? Depending on the circle you may ...
dark_st3alth's user avatar
  • 3,022
10 votes

How to erase as much as possible an SSD without ATA Secure Erase?

I don't know why you say that SSDs implement ATA Security Erase improperly. Modern ones implement it using SED (which uses an encryption key known to the drive and stored in non-volatile memory for ...
guest's user avatar
  • 246
10 votes
Accepted

How secure is the windows Cipher command?

Securely deleting data, otherwise known as “wiping” can be surprisingly difficult. Overwriting data even once with “cipher.exe”, or any other tool, makes the data effectively gone. The old bugaboos ...
user10216038's user avatar
  • 8,133
9 votes

Signal — Can message previews of the messages you send be disabled in the chats’ list of your addressee?

It's not currently possible for a sender to prevent all unsecured disclosure of their messages on the receiving device of the recipient. While Signal does have features in place to help protect the ...
reflexiv's user avatar
8 votes
Accepted

Magnet to wipe HDD

Short answer: That won't work. You'll need to degauss it, which will render the drive unusable. Long answer: Sure. Get a powerful magnet, put it next to the hard drive, with N facing the drive. ...
forest's user avatar
  • 66.8k
8 votes
Accepted

How to securely erase the free space on an SSD in windows 10?

Assuming that the SSD has a properly implemented TRIM function, then Free Space should already be wiped for you, this is what TRIM does as a side effect of preparing deleted/unallocated files for ...
user10216038's user avatar
  • 8,133
7 votes

How to delete one exe file that is probably malware?

Malware files by themselves are not special in any way, they're just like any other file albeit with a malicious purpose. So, you can simply delete it as you would any other file. If for some reason ...
Numeron's user avatar
  • 2,485
7 votes
Accepted

Does Amazon S3 deletion "shred" your object

Part of the answer depends on which region your data is stored in and if there are any government restrictions that may require them to retain data for any given time period. https://aws.amazon.com/...
Trey Blalock's user avatar
  • 14.2k
7 votes
Accepted

If I sell my printer, can the last printed pages be recovered? And how can I wipe it?

From what I read here and after a quick look in the User's Guide this does not seem to be the case. Print jobs are stored in the local memory (RAM) of the printer, but this is not the same as a hard ...
Tom K.'s user avatar
  • 7,966

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