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Elizabeth M
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Blogger
New method?
Elizabeth M   3/4/2013 7:41:47 AM
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This is really interesting, Cabe, and definitely a needed technology for people who want to ensure they don't leave anything recoverable on an old device, laptop or PC. I don't know about these type of products...is this an entirely new method for wiping data that isn't already being used today?

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: New method?
Ann R. Thryft   3/5/2013 11:52:26 AM
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I think Elizabeth's question is a good one: just how different is this from other software methods, which are notoriously incomplete, vs destroying the drive itself. Can you give us, or point us to, a more detailed technical description of how it works?

Elizabeth M
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Re: New method?
Elizabeth M   3/6/2013 7:00:48 AM
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Well put, as usual, Ann. That's exactly what I meant! I'm not so familiar with how the technology in general works, so would be good to know the difference.

Cabe Atwell
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Re: New method?
Cabe Atwell   3/6/2013 3:04:35 PM
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Ann,

The style of "wiping" a phone's data is a sensitive matter. Only user modified space can have the process applied. Some of which is in an OS or hardware protected space. IE:phone's contacts, text messages, etc. So, those areas need surgical style writing and rewriting of bits to cover over the original data. A process like DBAN will overwrite all data it has access to. DBAN, for example, may not get to all of a phone's data, in other words.

C

bobjengr
User Rank
Platinum
BlackBelt Wipes Data
bobjengr   3/6/2013 3:36:07 PM
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Very informative post Cabe.  I do just about the same a Charles indicated in his comments:  just put the old laptops, cell phones, etc etc in the basement and buy new.  I was just made aware of a company in my home town that provides a service wiping PC hard-disks and cell phone memory.  It's (apparently) doing a booming business.  They also repair cell phones when damaged.  It's a retail establishment so I paid them a visit to see what they were all about.  I was amazed and the business they do wiping memory.   Obviously this is a definite need prior to tossing, selling or giving electronics to other people.  Great post.

Charles Murray
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Re: BlackBelt Wipes Data
Charles Murray   3/6/2013 10:13:13 PM
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I'm not surprised that company is doing a booming business, bobjengr. I've talked to countless people who say they're afraid to get rid of their old electronics, especially if they used them to buy something online. 

Cabe Atwell
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Re: BlackBelt Wipes Data
Cabe Atwell   3/8/2013 4:33:01 PM
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Charles,

Unfortunately, I can't just put gear in the basement, per say. After letting a bunch of old computers and laptops age from being worth a little money to garbage, I don't like to house tech anymore. I like to sell what I don't use, and buy the next new "whatever."

However, I have destroyed harddrives when I worked in medical IT. That is always an option.

PS. I still have a 286, 386, and 486 PC in storage. The computers of my youth, to be exact. Old video game consoles I can't seem to part with. A few webOS based cell phones, I just like to have as backup. So, perhaps I do follow your suggestion.

C

Charles Murray
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Re: BlackBelt Wipes Data
Charles Murray   3/22/2013 6:18:12 PM
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The trick, Cabe, is to pretend you don't notice the stuff when it starts cluttering up your basement.

Cabe Atwell
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Blogger
Re: BlackBelt Wipes Data
Cabe Atwell   3/25/2013 2:53:40 PM
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Chuck,

Most of those old devices I keep are within 20 feet of me right now. So, it is more like "try not to notice every day."

However, with programs like DOSbox, I am considering recycling the old PCs. Though, perhaps they are becoming collector's items now. My father sold all his old 12" foppy disk based PCs and such on Ebay not too long ago for quite a bit. The original boxes fetched a healthy price on their own.

C

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: New method?
Ann R. Thryft   3/7/2013 2:00:44 PM
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Thanks for the summary, Cabe. I didn't realize how different phone data wiping was from PC data wiping, but it stands to reason.

apresher
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Blogger
Wiping Personal Devices Clean
apresher   3/4/2013 4:50:22 PM
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Cabe, I'll have to try this out.  I hate to admit it but I have a couple old laptops and phones where this has been the problem in getting rid of them.  Normally I have damaged the hard drive to make sure that no one could get personal information but this is obviously a much better solution.  Thanks.

Charles Murray
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Blogger
Re: Wiping Personal Devices Clean
Charles Murray   3/4/2013 7:24:54 PM
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I, too, have a stack of old laptops in the basement, Al. I don't want to get rid of them until I wipe the hard drives clean in a reliable way.

bob from maine
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Platinum
Re: Wiping Personal Devices Clean
bob from maine   3/5/2013 10:32:48 AM
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I don't think this technology is designed for computer hard drives. Their marketing blurb indicates it is for phones and possibly tablets which use flash memory. I think the only reliable way to prevent data from being recovered from a disc drive is to spike it,  then give it to your grand-children and ask them to take extra care in handling it, then burn-it. Flash drives are designed to be fairly robust and until now there were few if any product capable of completely defeating the built-in protection. If you dispose of your cell-phone or tablet, you cannot be absolutely sure the data is erased using any of the device's controls, so this product is a significant step forward.

sdoyle
User Rank
Silver
Re: Wiping Personal Devices Clean
sdoyle   3/5/2013 1:46:09 PM
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I believe Darik's Boot and Nuke works quite well for a standard HDD.

http://www.dban.org/

edit: not affiliated with dban

Cabe Atwell
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Blogger
Re: Wiping Personal Devices Clean
Cabe Atwell   3/5/2013 2:56:13 PM
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I do not believe DBAN can effectively wipe personal data off cell-phones. IE: contact info, text messages, etc. The free storage space, maybe. There is no other way I have seen that can NSA-level clean cell-phones/smartphones. I often read of people buying phones and such off Ebay and restoring all the "deleted" files. So, I never plan on selling a phone like that.

This BlackBelt option is definitely filling a need. I am surprised others are not joining the game.

C

sdoyle
User Rank
Silver
Re: Wiping Personal Devices Clean
sdoyle   3/5/2013 5:21:46 PM
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Cabe, I was not inferring that dban is intended for phones.  I was replying to the posts about old laptops and PC hard drives being stored just to keep the data safe.  At least I thought that was where I replied.

I researched dban a few years ago when I needed to wipe a PC hard drive for my employer.  That was one of the best free versions available.  From all that I found it can be comparable to (quite) expensive commercial versions as well government methods of data wiping.  It depends on the level of erase that you desire and how long you want it to take as to how effective the wipe.  It is not as thorough as a government wipe, but pretty darn close for a freeware application and more than likely good enough to recycle your HDD. 

Cabe Atwell
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Blogger
Re: Wiping Personal Devices Clean
Cabe Atwell   3/5/2013 5:32:18 PM
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It's a shame there isn't a free DBAN like program that could clean a phone.

DBAN is great. Run it through 10 times, you would probably be safe. Better yet, microwave everything, buy new.

C

sdoyle
User Rank
Silver
Re: Wiping Personal Devices Clean
sdoyle   3/5/2013 7:23:07 PM
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If I remember correctly, a 7-cycle wipe will clean the HDD to such a level that the only way to gather any data from it is to have near-forensic levels of inspection.

Jack Rupert, PE
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Wiping Personal Devices Clean
Jack Rupert, PE   3/22/2013 4:49:12 PM
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Cabe - So are you saying that DBAN isn't even that great?  Your recommendation for running it 10 times makes me a bit nervous.  I'm thinking going back to the old sledge hammer is the best approach.  (Actually, drill press, but the sledg hammer makes a better visual).

Cabe Atwell
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Wiping Personal Devices Clean
Cabe Atwell   3/25/2013 2:48:41 PM
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Jack,

DBAN is great. Running it 10 times would definitely wipe a harddrive enough so the average, and even adept, user would not be able to get data off the drive. Perhaps the NSA could get recover whatever is on there...

However, DBAN is currently not set up to use on cell phones. Perhaps in the near future.


And yes, the hammer to the drive is a good idea. Even those platter pieces could have recoverable data on them. Use this method as a last resort.

C

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Wiping Personal Devices Clean
William K.   3/5/2013 10:29:47 PM
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To really get rid of files, at least to the point where they are not recoverable, fiurst erase them, then save new data on top of them, then run the disk optimizer. After that, erase the files agin, run the disk optimizer again after all of the stuff is erased, then save new stuff, such as large picture files, until the memory is full. By rearranging the memory segments and then writing new stuff in them, and doing the whole sequence a few times, anything that could possibly be recovered would be small chunks of a file at most. Sort oof like the "shred and burn "process, except less pollution.



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