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Data Storage The Military Hardware IT

Where Old Hard Disks (with Digital Secrets) Go To Die 128

Posted by timothy
from the relax-we-used-to-work-at-cold-stone-creamery dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Justin George writes at McClatchy that in a 20,000-square-foot warehouse, where visitors are required to trade in a driver's license for a visitor's badge, some of the nation's secrets are torn apart, reduced to sand or demagnetized until they are forever silent. Need to destroy a rugged Toughbook laptop that might have been used in war? E-End will use a high-powered magnetic process known as degaussing to erase its hard drive of any memory. A computer monitor that might have some top-secret images left on it? Crushed and ground into recyclable glass. Laser sights for weapons? Torn into tiny shards of metal. "We make things go away," says Arleen Chafitz, owner and CEO of e-End Secure Data Sanitization and Electronics Recycling, a company with sixteen employees that destroys hard drives, computers, monitors, phones and other sensitive equipment that governments and corporations don't want in the wrong hands. Chafitz say the information technology departments at typical companies might not have the proper tools or training to adequately dispose of data. IT departments focus on fixing and restoring data, they say, while data-wiping companies focus on just the opposite."
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Where Old Hard Disks (with Digital Secrets) Go To Die

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 01, 2014 @09:59AM (#46127835)
  • Degaussing? Really? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 01, 2014 @10:05AM (#46127849)

    Degaussing? On a modern hard disk, with that level of coercivity? Bloody amateurs. Degaussing won't do shit to a modern hard disk.

    A dd zerofill pass is actually enough to stop the NSA and GCHQ in a determined 'recovery' attack, for any sector that's actually overwritten, to their immense frustration. Meanwhile, remapped sectors and removing HPAs are the domain of ATA Secure Erase - Enhanced, and all the firmware seems to do just what it says on the tin for that. One pass of each would be just fine.

    Bets are only off if the drive firmware's implanted (in which case, they probably already exfiltrated the data while it was running, anyway). If you suspect that, kill it with fire: you need to raise the platter above the Curie point. This means heat. That actually destroys the data. You could destroy the drive in any reasonable form by shredding it, but there's little point in that - see above - you could just erase it.

  • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968&gmail,com> on Saturday February 01, 2014 @11:04AM (#46128097) Journal

    Not to mention it appears they are still using voodoo like having to degauss drives instead of simply wiping them.

    Nobody has yet to show they managed to get back even a single file from a modern drive after it has had a simple zero wipe yet all these "security sites" still hold onto old wive's tales that haven't been true since the days of the MFM drives! Protip: The reason you could recover files from those old drives? The motors were VERY inaccurate and could slip the tracks, thus leaving tracks after an erase cycle. A modern drive have tracks sooo small there is no way in hell its gonna be missing tracks, you'd know there were issues because the drive would fail before it would miss a track.

    So I wonder how long voodoo from the age of DOS is gonna be taken as fact? An encrypted drive with a single wipe would insure there was zero data to recover and wouldn't be based on 30+ year old info, it would also deal with the real issue, the fact that there is no way to securely wipe an SSD that I know of, because SSDs don't "erase", just mark sectors as available to minimize writes.

  • Re:Jump The Shark (Score:4, Informative)

    by mikael (484) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @01:10PM (#46128709)

    Those smarter drives do insane things that having a pool of surplus disk blocks and having a virtual disk cylinder/sector map that can swap out old blocks that have become damaged and replace them with a new block. Just because you think you are writing on cylinder 32, sector 5, block 3, doesn't mean it's really at that location. Theoretically, it might be possible to fill up every possible block with data, but that's no guarantee.

    So the only safe way is to destroy the hard disk drives.

Machines certainly can solve problems, store information, correlate, and play games -- but not with pleasure. -- Leo Rosten

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