Sick of your PC? Pulverize it

When chewed up, a PC fits in a jar. Just ask Security Engineered Machinery--it takes paper shredding to a whole new level. Photos: Gear that deletes and destroys

Michael Kanellos Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET News.com, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas.
Michael Kanellos
2 min read
SAN FRANCISCO--When you care enough to shred the very best, Security Engineered Machinery just might have the equipment for you.

The Westboro, Mass.-based company released two new hard disk drive degaussers--smallish boxes that completely wipe out data on hard drives and render them functionally useless--at the RSA Security Conference taking place here this week.

Other machines sold by the company, such as the SEM DS-22 disintegrator, will physically shred drives, CDs, magnetic tape or a complete PC. Disintegration rates can go up to 1,800 pounds an hour.

The company largely markets its equipment to sensitive government agencies and others with high confidentiality requirements, said Michael Paciello, director of commercial sales. It got its start back in 1968 following the USS Pueblo Incident. The North Korean military nabbed a "fishing boat" off their waters that happened to be piloted by CIA agents. The boat was captured while documents were being thrown overboard.

Soon after, the government issued a bid for shredding equipment, he said.

"We get a lot of corporate customers too," he said. A little while ago, for instance, one large financial institution purchased a disintegrator to shred 145,000 data storage tapes. Casinos also buy them to get rid of old chips.

The Mag EraSure Professional released this week doesn't physically alter the disk itself but destroys it nonetheless. The machine exposes a hard drive to rare earth magnets for about a minute. The machine wipes out any data loaded on the drive, as well as the software loaded by the manufacturer, rendering it inoperable. Degaussers from competitors take longer when wiping out a drive, Paciello claimed.

The desk version costs about $25,000 while a mobile version, which needs a little more time to destroy a disk, costs about $20,000.