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Deleted but Not Gone (Must read, unless you have a computer science degree, IMHO)
NY Times ^ | November 3, 2005 | THOMAS J. FITZGERALD

Posted on 11/03/2005 4:43:16 PM PST by neverdem

Maintaining privacy in the era of digital information requires work on a number of fronts, whether fending off spyware, protecting important files with encryption or configuring a Wi-Fi hot spot to keep interlopers off a wireless network.

One basic privacy measure, however, is easily overlooked: proper data destruction.

Deleting confidential data completely is essential when donating or selling old computers, and it can also help maintain privacy on computers that may end up lost or stolen. And for businesses looking for ways to comply with the security requirements of laws like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, a sound policy on data control and destruction is crucial.

When normal deletion methods like the Recycle Bin or the delete command are used, the computer's operating system, for the sake of speed, creates an illusion that data has been deleted. In fact, it merely earmarks that region of a disk or drive as being available for new data to overwrite the old data. Until that overwriting occurs, the old data can be retrieved with undelete programs and tools used by data recovery labs and law enforcement agencies.

There are, however, several options for securely eliminating data from hard disks, U.S.B. flash drives and other storage media. These programs overwrite data with meaningless characters to render it unrecoverable with today's data recovery techniques. Some of the programs can overwrite entire drives...

--snip--

For example, Darik's Boot and Nuke, known also as DBAN, is a free open-source program available at dban.sourceforge.net. It runs on Windows computers and offers six methods to overwrite data, including a Defense Department standard (DoD 5220.22-M) that can overwrite the disk three times, as well as a method called PRNG Stream Wipe, which can make a user-defined number of disk overwrites using randomly generated characters.

(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Extended News; Government; News/Current Events; Technical
KEYWORDS: 173; computers; killbots; privacy; science; security; wifi
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I noticed this article because it was on the Times' "Most E-Mailed List". I'll take the hint. You may also want to download a free copy from dban.sourceforge.net for the last act of your personal computer or laptop.
1 posted on 11/03/2005 4:43:17 PM PST by neverdem
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To: neverdem

Or you can just format the hard drive 7 times and save yourself the money.


2 posted on 11/03/2005 4:44:26 PM PST by thoughtomator (Alito Akbar)
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To: thoughtomator

PGP or cyberscrub.


3 posted on 11/03/2005 4:46:33 PM PST by dynachrome ("Where am I? Where am I going? Why am I in a handbasket?")
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To: thoughtomator

Why seven times? Wouldn't one time do the trick?


4 posted on 11/03/2005 4:47:54 PM PST by Yardstick
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To: thoughtomator
Or you can just format the hard drive 7 times and save yourself the money.

Darik's Boot and Nuke ("DBAN") is FREE. Who's paying?

5 posted on 11/03/2005 4:50:13 PM PST by neverdem (May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows that you're dead.)
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To: neverdem

In criminal cases I've read of defendants purchasing several commercial data scrubbers and still the cops were able to retrieve everything. I wonder if the products mentioned really work.


6 posted on 11/03/2005 4:53:21 PM PST by Williams
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To: neverdem

Back in the olden days of Norton 5.0, they had the "WASH" utility built in that would write all "0"s the all "1"s then random 0 & 1

Norton 6.0 (I still have the floppies!) still had it also but no longer ---- law enforcement, IMHO, was the reason for4 removing that basic security option.

Remember X-Tree Gold ?


7 posted on 11/03/2005 4:54:23 PM PST by soltice
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To: soltice
Remember X-Tree Gold ?

Yes, I do, but I don't appreciate you bringing it up. [wink]

8 posted on 11/03/2005 4:57:19 PM PST by mattdono ("Crush the RATs and RINOs, drive them before you, and hear the lamentations of the scumbags" - Arnie)
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To: Williams

A thorough dunking in the river or lake should work well, providing you don't remove it after the dunking.


9 posted on 11/03/2005 4:59:34 PM PST by billhilly (If you're lurking here from DU (Democrats unglued), I trust this post will make you sick.)
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To: Yardstick

Apparently even after you format a drive there is a ghost of an image of old data that gets left on it - it's still stored (if in degraded condition) in the magnetic fields of the drive. This ghost image is further degraded every time the drive is formatted. After you format the drive 7 times you've given yourself a near certainty that any data on the drive at the start of the process will be unretrievable.


10 posted on 11/03/2005 5:00:59 PM PST by thoughtomator (Alito Akbar)
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To: neverdem

root@localhost# dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/hda


11 posted on 11/03/2005 5:03:44 PM PST by jamesm51
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To: thoughtomator

Th FORMAT command created an "UNDO/UNFORMAT mirror on the hard drive as a default state

with a format command " format c: /u "
where "U" means "Unconditional" -- do NOT create the "undo"
If I remember all that basic DOS stuff from way back.


12 posted on 11/03/2005 5:05:08 PM PST by soltice
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To: neverdem

I put Vista on my main drive and without realizing it, defaulted to my storage drive and wiped it clean (if you have windows already, the beta goes to the next drive by default i guess)...

Boy did I regret that.

Luckily, a program I found salvaged all the important information and I was able to live life...the wife was near killing me.


13 posted on 11/03/2005 5:10:10 PM PST by smith288 (Peace at all cost makes for tyranny free of charge...)
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To: neverdem

Hard drives are cheap. When you get rid of an old computer, pull the hard drive. A screwdriver and a hammer should finish the job.


14 posted on 11/03/2005 5:10:15 PM PST by PAR35
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To: neverdem
Mac OS X has a menu command to totally obliterate discarded files -

After using the Secure Empty Trash command, not even the FBI or the NSA can recover those files.

15 posted on 11/03/2005 5:13:05 PM PST by HAL9000 (Get a Mac - The Ultimate FReeping Machine)
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To: soltice

Also - when you delete a file, all that is done is it removes the first character of the file name in the FAT It erases nothing! gowin.exe changes to _owin.exe

That is how you UNDELETE a file you just have to add the first character back in.

How all that old basic stuff comes back - I haven't thought of that for ### years!

How long have I been doing this? Back in the ARPANET days, I was TIMESDOMAIN system username CLOCK aka Tick-Tock ---- ahhh reminiscing back to the days of 8k pages and systems running off the "color crystal" a blazing 1.44mhz


16 posted on 11/03/2005 5:15:11 PM PST by soltice
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To: neverdem

btt 4 l8r


17 posted on 11/03/2005 5:17:19 PM PST by Cacique (quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat ( Islamia Delenda Est ))
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To: wardaddy; Joe Brower; Cannoneer No. 4; Criminal Number 18F; Dan from Michigan; Eaker; King Prout; ..
This article struck me as practical and useful. If you download a copy of DBAN, make the label first.

Darik's Boot and Nuke

18 posted on 11/03/2005 5:20:05 PM PST by neverdem (May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows that you're dead.)
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To: thoughtomator

I see. Thanks for 'splainin.


19 posted on 11/03/2005 5:20:57 PM PST by Yardstick
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To: thoughtomator
High level formatting won't even try to erase all your data. It justs rewrites the file system headers and directories.

Even low level formatting can be beaten - with free software. From Brian Kreg's blog Before You Get Rid of that Hard Drive..:


A friend of a friend recently needed someone to retrieve the data off of a hopelessly busted laptop computer that was destined for the electronic auction block. Since I was beginning to research a blog entry on securely deleting data from a hard drive, I said I'd be happy to help this person.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Getting the data off of the laptop proved the easy part. Then it was time to format the computer's hard drive to wipe it clean of any data. A full format with a Microsoft Windows DOS-based floppy disk appeared to erase all of the data. But then I scanned the newly-formatted hard drive with Helix, a free forensics tool often used by law enforcement folks to recover incriminating data from computers seized from suspected criminals. Within 20 minutes, Helix had retrieved more than 30 percent of the data that was supposedly erased from the drive, including personal digital photos, records of which Web sites the laptop's owner had visited online, as well as Microsoft Word documents and other personal files.

Formatting a hard drive is akin to ripping out its table of contents. The files on the drive aren't really destroyed, it's just that the computer's operating system no longer has any meaningful directions on where to find a particular file on the drive. Using free data-recovery tools such as Helix, however, much of that data can easily be retrieved. So, if you're at all concerned that there is remotely sensitive information on an old computer you're planning to sell on eBay or donate to the local school district, it might be worth spending a little time securely erasing the hard drive using software that writes 1s and 0s over each bit of storage space on the drive.

With a little Web searching, I found a powerful and free tool called "Dban." If you're just trying to delete certain files or folders (but not the entire hard drive), skip ahead a few paragraphs because you definitely do not want to mess with this tool -- it will erase everything on your computer, at least well beyond the recovery skills of most of our readers here. Following the directions and the FAQ on Dban's site, I was able to burn the program to a CD-Rom. I put the disc in the laptop and rebooted it, which launched the program.

The Dban tool does a good job, but it writes over each sector of the hard disk seven times, so it can take quite a while to wipe a hard drive. I was cleaning a 20 gigabyte hard drive, and it took almost three hours for the program to do its job. According to the Dban FAQ, securely wiping a 120 gigabyte drive (a size that is common in many desktop computers sold these days) could take upwards of 18 hours -- depending on your computer's hardware.

I ran the Helix disc again on the laptop and it found virtually nothing on the drive -- at least not much that was readable or usable.

If you're in the market for a program that can securely delete specific files or folders on your PC (as opposed to wiping an entire drive), there are plenty of free options. One is WipeDisk. Another is Secure Delete. The one I prefer is Eraser.

Regardless of which tool you use, most will allow you to specify the number of "passes" -- or the number of times to overwrite the file(s). Some will default to 7 passes -- one standard used by the Department of Defense to wipe sensitive information from a computer -- while others, like Eraser, default to wiping the targeted area 35 times. Thirty-five passes is probably overkill, but hey, sometimes it pays to be paranoid when it comes to computer security.

Just how many passes you need to blot out the data on your hard drive is really up to you. For the average computer user who just wants to resell or donate an old PC, even running a single pass with a program like Dban is better than just formatting the drive or reinstalling the operating system.



20 posted on 11/03/2005 5:21:44 PM PST by ThePythonicCow (To err is human; to moo is bovine.)
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To: neverdem

Thanks


21 posted on 11/03/2005 5:26:05 PM PST by george76 (Ward Churchill : Fake Indian, Fake Scholarship, and Fake Art)
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To: thoughtomator

Anyone know how to remove a pop-up stuck in registry files? Driving me nuts.


22 posted on 11/03/2005 5:32:58 PM PST by Rennes Templar ("The future ain't what it used to be".........Yogi Berra)
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To: ThePythonicCow

Hunh! Interesting stuff to look into later.


23 posted on 11/03/2005 5:39:55 PM PST by Titan Magroyne (Wet Burqa Contest Winner)
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To: neverdem

http://blogs.washingtonpost.com/securityfix/2005/11/just_one_critic.html

Critical Windows Patch Coming Next Week:

Microsoft will release just one software update next week to plug a critical flaw in computers running its Windows operating system, the company said today. Redmond rates patches "critical" if they close a security hole that attackers could use to break in and take over vulnerable Windows machines.

Security Fix will have more details on the patch when it is issued on Tuesday.


24 posted on 11/03/2005 5:42:57 PM PST by bitt ("..the very obsession of your public service must be Duty, Honor, Country." Gen. Douglas MacArthur)
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To: PAR35
When you get rid of an old computer, pull the hard drive. A screwdriver and a hammer should finish the job.

That's what I do. Bashing the bejesus out of the old drive doesn't hurt the trade-in value, and it sure does protect your information. And it's fun. :-)

25 posted on 11/03/2005 5:44:59 PM PST by speekinout
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Comment #26 Removed by Moderator

To: Rennes Templar
Try Microsoft's anti-spyware program. It actually works very well.

Microsoft Anti-Spyware

27 posted on 11/03/2005 5:47:33 PM PST by COEXERJ145 (http://www.navyfield.com)
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To: speekinout; PAR35

You guys are on track. A good sand rubbing works even better.


28 posted on 11/03/2005 5:49:28 PM PST by LurkedLongEnough
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To: Williams
In criminal cases I've read of defendants purchasing several commercial data scrubbers and still the cops were able to retrieve everything. I wonder if the products mentioned really work.

Yes and no. It depends on how the program "destroys" the data. Where I work we have to clean certain hard drives so as to prevent Social Security Numbers from being retrieved. Just formating, even 10-20 times does not prevent recovery. We use a program that writes, overwrites, and overwrites again a total of 35 times as well as scrambling the 1's and 0's dozens of times. We run the program twice to be sure the hard drive is clean.

Lately though we've decided it was easier to have the hard drives removed and placed into an industrial shredder and ground into nearly a fine power. A lot quicker and easier.

29 posted on 11/03/2005 5:54:11 PM PST by COEXERJ145 (http://www.navyfield.com)
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To: COEXERJ145
I have a question. My daughter just wrote a paper last night for a college course. Saved it and got up this morning early to write the summary and the only thing that was saved was the final page that she was on when she saved it.

Anyone know how she can find the rest of the paper? It's on Word

30 posted on 11/03/2005 6:06:04 PM PST by Pure Country
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To: neverdem

I've heard that evidence eliminator is a good program to delete cookies, content IE.5 files and history files.


31 posted on 11/03/2005 6:06:42 PM PST by Coleus (Roe v. Wade and Endangered Species Act both passed in 1973, Murder Babies/save trees, birds, algae)
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To: mattdono

Excuse me... I remember VSX... in fact, I still have it.

I'm waiting for it to become a collector's item.


32 posted on 11/03/2005 6:34:00 PM PST by altura
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To: altura
You mean, other than a garbage collector's item?

< ]B^)

33 posted on 11/03/2005 6:56:27 PM PST by Erasmus (Getting captivated by modern music leads to Stockhausen Syndrome.)
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Comment #34 Removed by Moderator

To: thoughtomator

Or you can use the 15 day trial version then f disk your hard drive and do it again :)


35 posted on 11/03/2005 7:04:29 PM PST by Porterville (Pray for War- Spanish by birth, American by the Grace of God!!!)
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To: HAL9000

search google for "Eraser" (free) or "East Tec Eraser" ($50) and you get some for windows too.

They both wipe files (browser cache too) as many as 35 times.


36 posted on 11/03/2005 7:04:37 PM PST by heybeavis
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Comment #37 Removed by Moderator

To: HAL9000
Thanks for that Tip,Hal. You should do a weekly column for us Mac FReepers,Thanks Buddy
38 posted on 11/03/2005 7:07:15 PM PST by cmsgop ( Bill Clinton's License Plate..... "Herpes 1")
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To: billhilly
A thorough dunking in the river or lake should work well...

Probably not.


39 posted on 11/03/2005 7:22:07 PM PST by Born Conservative (Prince Charles is Camilla Parker Bowles' tampon - MadIvan)
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To: neverdem

I don't need this article. I can delete hard drives by just looking at them. Must be my magnetic personality.


40 posted on 11/03/2005 7:24:52 PM PST by Seamoth
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To: soltice
"How all that old basic stuff comes back - "
"...and systems running off the "color crystal" a blazing 1.44mhz "

Speaking of remembering old stuff, that "color crystal" would have been 3,579,545 Hz. Aw heck, while I am at it, the vertical freq would be 59.94 Hz, and the horizontal would be 15,734 Hz. Lets see...was it the blanking interval that was 62.5 microseconds?.....it's all a little fuzzy, I haven't dealt with NTSC in nearly 10 years.

Do I win the pocket protector?
41 posted on 11/03/2005 7:29:14 PM PST by Nik Naym
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To: Pure Country

Try this (from the Word Help file):

Open an earlier version of a document
On the File menu, click Versions.
Click the version of the document you want to open.
Click Open.
This version contains all the previously saved versions.



If that doesn't work, go to Microsoft's website; on the left hand side click "communities", then forums,office, Word,General. You can search or you can post the question there. You can pretty much be guaranteed to get an answer that will work.


42 posted on 11/03/2005 7:30:39 PM PST by Born Conservative (Prince Charles is Camilla Parker Bowles' tampon - MadIvan)
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To: thoughtomator; Yardstick
Yep, computer forensics has gotten quite good.

Random generated patterns overwriting free space (multiple times) is a good option.

Still, US GOV; DOD, Spook central Tempest specifications require the complete physical destruction of the data medium when its retired. Even media that's NEVER been used!

43 posted on 11/03/2005 7:38:06 PM PST by AFreeBird (your mileage may vary)
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To: soltice
Norton 6.0 (I still have the floppies!) still had it also but no longer ---- law enforcement, IMHO, was the reason for4 removing that basic security option.

Yes, but open source programs can and still do employ such processes. Why? Cause they're imported from outside the US by-passing US laws.

44 posted on 11/03/2005 7:41:47 PM PST by AFreeBird (your mileage may vary)
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To: jamesm51

G=C800:5
might do the job.

Got any geeks out there?


45 posted on 11/03/2005 7:49:10 PM PST by Poser (Willing to fight for oil)
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To: speekinout
doesn't hurt the trade-in value

Trade in value? My Osborne is a collector's item. The others I use until they are ready for the landfill. If you don't upgrade software, you don't have to upgrade hardware.

46 posted on 11/03/2005 7:49:49 PM PST by PAR35
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To: Rennes Templar

You might want to try TweakNow RegCleaner. It's free and seems to pick up stuff other programs miss.


47 posted on 11/03/2005 7:50:10 PM PST by GOPJ
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To: GOPJ

Thanks I'll try it.


48 posted on 11/03/2005 8:09:06 PM PST by Rennes Templar ("The future ain't what it used to be".........Yogi Berra)
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To: SerpentDove

This (#20) might be useful...


49 posted on 11/03/2005 8:12:14 PM PST by TheSarce (The Silent Majority is finding its voice. It goes to ELEVEN!)
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To: thoughtomator
Or you can just format the hard drive 7 times and save yourself the money.

Not as good as the multiple random overwrites. Formating writes the same thing every time. Theoretically it could still leave a faint trace of the original information. (VERY theoretically, and unless it's the government, or another government, you are trying to hide the data from, the reformatting is probably good enough).

50 posted on 11/03/2005 8:13:06 PM PST by El Gato
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