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Via gives away disk-scrubbing software

Taiwanese chipmaker dangles open-source software to lure in programmer interest.

In an effort to promote a new processor feature, Via Technologies has released open-source software for thoroughly erasing deleted files.

The Taiwanese company's Intel-compatible chips, such as the C3, Eden and Antaur, include a random number generator that is useful for tasks such as accelerating some encryption operations. The company this week released an open-source program called Tru-Delete that overwrites files with random numbers.

Scrubbing software can be useful for companies wishing to protect sensitive information, particularly on computers that might be stolen. It also makes it harder for law enforcement agencies to recover forensic information through investigations.

For those wanting to permanently delete unwanted files for security or privacy reasons, overwriting with random numbers instead of, for example, just a long string of zeros, makes it harder to recover information. Via said its chips' hardware boost speeds the disk-scrubbing process, because the processor doesn't have to run taxing software for generating random numbers.

Offering free software to attract attention is nothing new. But offering open-source software adds another dimension to the tactic: It means that programmers can adapt the software for their own uses. Werner du Plessis, a Via representative, said the company has planned for additional open-source projects.

Via released the software under the General Public License, which governs Linux and many other open-source projects. Versions are available for Linux, Windows and Windows CE.