93

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 ...


36

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 surface,...


24

Emails, sent through SMTP, have no way of "self-destructing" internally built in to them. They're basically just text files that hang around for eternity until all copies are manually deleted. The fact that you still have the email's headers is proof enough; if messages could self-destruct, their entry would be entirely removed from your mail client, as if ...


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

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 with ...


12

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

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 ...


11

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 drives and works fine on spinning rust. It takes a lot longer than on SSDs because hard drives are less likely to support SED, which allows instant erasure by ...


9

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

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

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

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 ...


6

It is a futile thing to do as explained well by Tom Leek, but luckily it also isn't necessary. The idea of overwriting several times is very old, the intent being that there remains a residue when overwriting data on a magnetic medium. Overwriting several times would (should) make lab recovery harder or impossible. All modern drives, including magnetic ones,...


6

It's to remove any trace of the previous memory. Not an expert but here is what I understand. Memory is stored in binary format : 0 and 1. So you can see your memory as a big array of 0 and 1 that we will call bits. Bits are not exactly 0 and 1, maybe 0.01 or 0.99 for example. If a bit was 1 and you rewrite it to 0, it might be 0.02. On the other hand if a ...


6

There is no hard disk drive, or a solid state drive, or any other non-volatile computer memory on the market that would have self-destruct capabilities and a casual customer could buy. There's also a good reason for this. Let's, as an example, see what a military grade RunCore's InVincible SSD does:          &...


5

There are facilities that provide this service. The facilities are often contracted in for facility-wide "shred-days." In house, the military has Defense Re-utilization and Marketing Office (DRMO.) This office attempts to re-sell, or re-utilize equipment safe for use, or is often used in disposition. Here's what Ive found: Pulverizing: Basically, this is ...


5

Something like this may be of use, but your best bet would be to customize it using a 3G modem wired up internally that's 'always on' so you can remote kill-switch it. I remember seeing, years ago, a couple of demo units of hard-drives for servers where if they were removed without authorization, the would inject a tube of magnetic particles and sand into ...


5

Here are some ideas for you: It sounds like you want to rely on physics and nature to act as the time constant t to degrade the original message m into m' where m' = f(t,m) Isotopes, cosmic radiation, the predictable orbit of the Earth, could all act as t. Use t to generate an OTP (or more secure equivalent) or XOR the output Figure out the math to do #...


4

Depending on the filesystem, physical device, etc., those will have varying levels of effectiveness. I'll take a look at each one, and generally I'm assuming ext4 on magnetic hard disk, as it's the most common default Linux FS right now. I'm also assuming recovery starts immediately after the command completes: i.e., there are no intermediate writes to ...


4

The very simple answer is yes, and you can check this for yourself by reading BIOS information, or the text that is stored in various devices and drivers. You could even store text in the firmware in most modern keyboards. Next time you update your BIOS, look at the upgrade file in a hex editor - loads of text in there, comments fields etc.


4

Your best bet is thermite. Clive Robinson and I in discussions on Schneier's blog both agreed it's the safest, easiest method. It's partly easy b/c you can make it cheaply at home, legally in many areas, and safe b/c it take a magnesium rod to ignite. I couldn't find the full discussion for you so here it is in a nutshell: Take the drive apart gently or by ...


4

dismantle components using a screwdriver and dismantle the plates put components in a bag pour petrol over and in the bag containing components make sure a fire-extinguisher is close by (Safety first!) put the bag in fireproof pot and light it on fire with a long match Do not breath the fumes, they can be toxic Note : You can use thermite instead of petrol. ...


4

This isn't my forte but if; 1) you don't want copying the message to stop the degradation 2) you want the message to be readable (understandable?) up to a predefined time - presumably with some given accuracy on that time 3) you have no limitations in the minimum length of time required Then a simple solution is write it in a colloquial dialect, then wait ...


3

Just a quick option I'll throw out there: have it create an SSH tunnel on boot. You'll have full control over all it's resources as long as it has an internet connection from work. Need to wipe it? Wipe it. Need to grab a file from someone out of the office? Install software? Mount a server resource for them? Install VNC and punch another tunnel and remote ...


3

"Keep in mind I am looking for an easier and more reliable data-destroying solution than wiping drives." http://cmrr.ucsd.edu/hughes/SecureErase.html should be pretty easy and reliable. Unless you envision people with electron micoscopes going over your drives with a fine tooth comb, there really isn't any reason to do more.


3

Note that some printing systems keep a copy of what they print. I know mine tends to do that -- it is a PC running CUPS, linked to a USB-only laser printer (it turns the USB-only printer into a network printer, but the files to print must go through a spool directory on the PC, as so many files). So, if your data is that sensitive, then you should not print ...


2

Take in a USB stick, and print directly from there. Any sanely configured backup solution will ignore removable drives.


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