in

This Blog

Syndication

Tags

News

AlertBoot offers a cloud-based full disk encryption and mobile device security service for companies of any size who want a scalable and easy-to-deploy solution. Centrally managed through a web based console, AlertBoot offers mobile device management, mobile antivirus, remote wipe & lock, device auditing, USB drive and hard disk encryption managed services.

Archives

AlertBoot Endpoint Security

AlertBoot offers a cloud-based full disk encryption and mobile device security service for companies of any size who want a scalable and easy-to-deploy solution. Centrally managed through a web based console, AlertBoot offers mobile device management, mobile antivirus, remote wipe & lock, device auditing, USB drive and hard disk encryption managed services.

Data Security And Computer Disposal: There's Delete And Then There's Delete

The holidays are almost over, and many people across the world have probably bought—for themselves as well as for other people—plenty of nifty gadgets as presents, such as a computer.  And, when it’s in with the new, it’s also out with the old.  Extra care must be taken to ensure that the data in the computer being thrown out doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

 

For example, the Sun in England has a little story about an engineer who was looking for computer parts at a recycling center (you, as a concerned earthling, are recycling those machines, right?)  He happened on a computer disk which, when loaded, showed the names, ranks, addresses, phone numbers, and job qualifications for thousands of police officers.  Plus, there were details for “civilians working for the police.”  It could’ve easily been a bad day for rats and weasels.  Thankfully, the engineer alerted the newspaper as opposed to the local Don.

 

What could have the cops done to ensure that the information did not fall into the wrong hands?  Deleted it?  Not quite.  As many websites and blogs are pointing out—due to the international old/new gadget swap that happens around this time of the year—deleting files in no way guarantees that the information is gone.

 

A non‑technical explanation for the layman is that when you delete a digital file on your computer—and, for Windows machines, hit the “empty” button—what you’re really erasing is a way for you to find that file; however, the contents of that file still exist in a spot in your computer, and will exist in your computer until something else takes over that spot (aka, something is “written over” it).  When, what, and how that spot will be taken over by another file is completely random: it could be today, it could be five years from now.  The data could be replaced by another similar file, or a digital picture, or a spreadsheet, or a movie—the only way to guarantee that the old data will be knocked out is to force something to be written in that spot.  Since the process is random, however, the entire hard drive is written over.  It’s like napalming the data.  Plus, the write over process requires multiple passes; I’ve heard of three being a minimum for “sanitizing” a disk by the Department of Defense (DoD), but it’s supposedly not acceptable for Top Secret information.

 

The process, of course, takes quite a bit of time—not that you need to baby‑sit the process.  If this takes too much time for your taste, an alternate method is to have the disk encrypted using services like AlertBoot and to toss the keys, which is akin to locking up the vault at Fort Knox and melting the key and the keyhole.  Of course, if you’re going to encrypt something, it’s usually advantageous to do it when you get the computer or laptop (or some other digital device) as opposed to when you’re about to throw it away.  This way, come garbage collection day, you can safely put out the computer by the curb without any worries that someone will have access to the “deleted” contents—and in the meantime, you get the benefits of the protection offered by data encryption.  You know, just in case there’s a burglary or some other unforeseen or unexpected event.

 

If you're really paranoid, the only way to ensure perfect security is to melt the contents of your hard drive into one solid and amorphous mass.  Just take care not to burn down the house with a blowtoch when doing it....

 
<Previous Next>

Burglarized Church: Computer Theft Targeted Hard Drives Only

Data Protection Is The Law In Oregon At The Turn Of The Year: Data Encryption Can Help

Comments

No Comments

About sang_lee

Sang Lee is a Senior Account Manager and Security Analyst with AlertBoot, Inc., the leading provider of managed endpoint security services, based in Las Vegas, NV. Mr. Lee helps with the deployment and ongoing support of the AlertBoot disk encryption managed service. Prior to working at AlertBoot, Mr. Lee served in the South Korean Navy. He holds both a B.S. and an M.S. from Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, U.S.A.