Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Data security for discarded disk drives

I'm thinning my computer hardware herd a bit lately and the issue of data security on discarded disk drives has been of some concern. There's a bunch of very old low capacity IDE drives(less than 500M) in a pile that aren't much good for anything anymore. For serious computing I use SCSI and for less serious I'll use IDE, but these tiny old IDE's were just taking up space and I can't even give'em away to the kids in the neighborhood. I'm also lothe to spend the effort to power them up to see what's on them anymore. If I did find something sensitive on one, I'd have to go through the bother of doing a secure erase on the thing anyway. I've written my own secure erase utility(commercial ones cost $20 at CompUSA), similar in concept to what we used back in the early 80's for scrubbing the space shuttle's computers after the military missions.

Still, this is all a great hassle for something you plan on throwing away. After a bit of thought, a fast definitive solution presented itself in the form of my drill press. I chucked up a sharp 1/4" drill bit and punched a series of holes through the platters, motor drive, head actuating mechanism and onboard controller board. I doubt even the NSA or CIA could retreive anything off this sucker now.

Of course if the neighbors weren't a bunch of whiners I could have taken them out in the yard and dumped half a clip from my AK-47 into each one. Damn neighbors. Always spoiling the fun.

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