"Systm: Nuke, grind or melt your hard drive"
will start after this message from our sponsors.
Systm: Nuke, grind or melt your hard drive
[ Music ]
>> Today's Systm is sponsored by the United States Air Force, Gobi from Qualcomm, Global, Mobile Internet and Dead Space. Only the Dead survive. Are you selling your old computer, donating it to charity, worry about getting sued 'cause your small business didn't take 'reasonable measures' to dispose of sensitive data? Then you're gonna love this episode of Systm where we're gonna wipe some hard drives clean.
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>> Welcome to Systm I'm Patrick Norton.
>> And I'm Roger Chang filling in for David Calkins, who was last sighted at the Texas Cup, something to do with the Austin Maker Faire out in Austin, Texas.
>> Combat, mayhem, awards.
>> So the robots bigger in Texas too?
>> I ain't going there. Shall we?
>> Yes. That's right.
>> Every two years the Internet slide up with the news that somebody, somewhere bought some used hard drives or used computers with hard drives in them, runs some data recovery software or just flipped the On switch and found lots and lots of interesting things like personal records, compromising photos, or my personal favorite, banking records.
>> And now, while you may not take care or not care if the super gigantic corporation buys your machine in bulk and you get all these secret formulas for like new dish maps, or even like, you know baby cream and stuff, you know it doesn't matter, but you might be in deep trouble if it's something like your finances. Think of it, I mean, if your tax information is on there, your banking information. What if you're an Amazon buying records are on there and people would know that you've bought like every Harry Potter books that's since it got released.
>> Bribery material or you said, when they come up bribery, not extortion.
>> It's blackmail.
>> That's the one. So, let's talk about protecting your privacy by sanitizing drives. Disk wiping is another word for it before you release them. In part one, Roger is gonna talk about our favorite tool for wiping drives clean, Darik's Boot 'n Nuke.
>> Yes, in part two, Patrick is gonna do the more Cro-Magnon approach as to how to actually has a...
>> Perfect example there. Not only wipe the machine or rather the drive basically by destroying it using the government standard or rather the government benchmark tool.
>> Top secret government classified information style -- with actually some common household tools. Or at least easily purchasable stuff from your local hardware store.
>> Three hardware stores in our case.
>> Or should have been one hardware store. In any case, there's nothing wrong with owning a hard drive shredder or an NSA-approved degausser, they're just really, really expensive. As a matter of fact they're terrifyingly expensive.
>> And just so people know what a degausser is, it's essentially a large electro coiled magnet that they use typically for example in a media library where they need to wipe VHS tapes or any kind of magnetic materials so they can what they call 'block' them out and then you know, basically take the iron fillings and re-spread them back into a relatively random pattern.
>> I don't think the iron fillings where I think the data -- well, not this...
>> Yeah, they flip those around. I'm not saying that they take everything and they move it to one section of the disk.
>> That was a highly technical explanation.
>> In any case...
>> Before anybody e-mails about DoD 5220.22-M the standards for wiping and whether or not they're in effect or if we follow them or that any particular cognizant security agency such as the DoD, the DoE, the NRC or the CIA suggest you wipe your data in a different fashion, lighten up. We're doing this to be a bit practical for the home user, for the small business, for people who are not -- well, part of a giant agency with super tight standards for data disposal.
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>> We wanna take time out to thank one of our sponsors for this big show, EA's Dead Space, only the dead survive. Created by a hand-picked team of horror fanatics, EA's first survival horror game is so terrifying that it earns an M rating. No place for kids here. Set in a cold blackness of deep space, you take up the role of Isaac Clarke, an engineer aboard the mining ship USG Ishimura. It is not long before Isaac wakes for a living nightmare where his fellow crew members have been ravaged by a terrible alien infestation. To survive you must master the art of strategic dismemberment and take advantage of the ship's zero G-environment to blast your way through your enemies. Well, we were so inspired by the whole zero G-thing that we decided to build our very own electromagnetic boots. Similar to the ones used in game to navigate the weightless dead space environment. Dead Space also won best of E3 2008 for best Action Adventure Game at the Game Critics Awards. You can find Dead Space in stores October 16. So if you wanna play possibly the most terrifying video game ever made, pre-order your copy online now at deadspace.ea.com.
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>> I'm gonna be Cro-Magnon man.
>> Destroying hard drives.
>> You're gonna show us the civilized way to wipe the drive without making it useless.
>> Yes because, you know often times, you're gonna maybe want to sell the machine with the hard drive or you wanna donate the hard drive for a good cause, to charities, school, the institution of your choice. Now, what we prefer here on the show is Darik's Boot 'n Nuke and the reason is, it's open source, it's effective and it supports a number of different types of wiping. So if you have one particular one in mind, for example if you wanna do something quick and dirty you can do that. If you wanna do something a little more elaborate, a little more involved, you can do that as well.
>> For thousands overwrites.
>> And you know, when I use terms like quick and dirty it involves, you'll probably think it's a euphemism for me -- from me about how much time you're gonna need to let your machine sit.
>> Right. I mean for 99% of the people out there this is more that are gonna cover your sanitization needs for a drive, right. So, what it does is it writes user over every addressable space in the hard drive.
>> Yeah and it's actually really simple to do. Once you get the Darik's Book and Nuke -- Book and Nute -- Boot 'n Nuke CD.
>> Boot 'n Nuke.
>> It's an ISO-free. Again, download and burn it down to a CD, boot up your machine with it. You're gonna be given this really plain Jane screen that we have right here and essentially all you really need to do is hit Enter. Once you're at the first screen, hit Enter. Now, once we get to the screen after you hit Enter you will be presented with a pretty basic and sparse-looking interface.
>> Got a very dusk feel to it.
>> Now depending on the number of hard drives and partitions you have the screen will look different that the one we have right here. You know, at its most basic, select the partition or drive that you want and hit space or the space bar. As you can see what happens is that the word WIPE pops in the bracket on the left. Now, once you get that, you're given a couple of options -- actually several options. You're given P or the P key, which is called the Pseudo random number generator. Remember when Patrick was talking about the how it writes random ones and zeros. The computer needs to know how to actually [inaudible] because computers don't by default automatically generate random numbers.
>> The computers were designed not be random for the most part.
>> Exactly. So you need to choose between two different random number generator algorithms: Mersenne, twister and the ISAAC or I-S-A-A-C. Pick either one and I was actually researching this I couldn't really find one huge benefit of one type of algorithm over another. Some say the Mersenne is quicker. Others say, ISAAC is a lot more thorough, but in the going back and forth...
>> It's -- for me it's a toss-in. So I just kind of go with the default which is a Mersenne. Now, you have a -- your second option is M for method and this is essentially the wipe method that ...
>> Boot 'n Nuke will use to clear out your hard drive. Now you it actually goes down in a ascending order of how long it's gonna take. How long it's gonna take is kind of equal almost how secure it will be.
>> The quicker, the faster it is, the less time it's gonna have to write those random ones and zeros over and over again to kind of really randomize and kind of blot out that data. So, then we go into V for verify. Now verification is important if you are super paranoid.
>> This is actually says, after I do this line of ones and zeros, I'm gonna go back and verify there's no data there. Now you can do that for each pass or you can do it for the last pass. Now if you have pretty much all the time in the world then you pretty much keep it running for the week. You know, I'm exaggerating though it's a week.
>> But it's a long time. It's not like you know watch your primetime show and come back. Finally we have Rounds and I mentioned this before. This is the number of times after it goes through the process once for example I choose one the Gutmann Wipes and it does the 30--
>> 35 passes.
>> 35 passes -- okay, you put two. It's gonna do another one. Oh put eight okay it's gonna do six more after than. So you could do kind of the super thorough, it's gonna take forever, but have a hard drive no one could read and you know reformat it'll be safe. You know, I just had to leave my computer on for the better part of eight days. But you can do that. Now the cool thing about Darik's Boot 'n Nuke is that's you can access more than just one hard drive. So you have a multiple hard drive machine for example you're learning softrade or something like you can actually have more drives. Generally though, according to Darik's Boot 'n Nuke, four is kind of the most practical.
>> Passes over the drives.
>> Most practical numbers. And the thing is you will not be CPU bouncer even if you have this amazing quad-core machine, it will not run in faster. What you will be limited by is actually bandwidth on the bus. So if you think you're gonna be doing multiple drives. For example you wanna build up system that does nothing but wipe hard drives, you're gonna want to look for a board that supports or at least has multiple bandwidth PCI bust. So, essentially because its passing.
>> PCI bandwidth is more important than CPU.
>> Yes. So, you know even they even write in the FAQ that you know you speed CPU speed really has very little to do with how the performance of the process works.
>> Now once you have everything set, and then I'm not gonna hit this because I really need this computer this week. You hit that tab and it's gonna start the churning process and you pretty much leave it alone and come back...
>> A few hours or a few days or weeks later.
>> Yes. And most you even you have to wait was maybe close to two days, but again that depend on the size of the hard drive, what you're trying to wipe, what method you're using and of course in some cases, you know for example for Notebook, if you do not have the plug -in, to a wall outlet and two hours it dies...
>> Then you're gonna start it off again.
>> Yeah. Realistically though, you're probably looking at three to four hours if you choose one of the more modest settings.
>> Right. Now, you could use a commercial agent to destroy that drive. There's companies that do nothing but destroy drives. They're considered acceptable, there's legal thing, you sign off for it, they give you a verification that the drive was destroyed. They'll probably use a shredder. They could be you know, a bit like remember the show like "Will It Blend?"
>> It's funny because when we used to work downtown, there would be this white truck. It would almost look like a garbage truck.
>> Except that instead of having a unit that would lift a big tub of trash, this essentially huge stick. There's one for paper, but there's also one for solid media like hard drives, you go through it and you crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch. They will just literally take it and chew the drive up.
>> Yeah. If you got like CDs or DVDs or Floppy disks, you pull the skill center out of floppy disk or there's actually a lot of paper shredders, you know floppy disk you can just kind of -- hopefully nobody out there is disclosing a floppy disk. You just cut them into small pieces. Most paper shredder these days will either handle or have a little slot for CDs and DVD and it'll do a pretty job. But most of use aren't gonna be able to afford a hard drive shredder or a certified degaussing equipment like having, you know your magnet -- you know basically like grabbing electro magnet and waving it over something, it's not going to clear that platter. It actually takes an unbelievable amount of magnetism to wipe the drive. So if you're more a DIY type, you're financially restricted. The watchwords are disintegrate, incinerate, pulverize, shred, or melt.
[ Music ]
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>> Now, about the whole melting angle, there is nothing wrong with using Thermite or acid to destroy a hard drive and perhaps Kevin, Rose and Gerry [assumed spellings] rub for one of the most amusing segment that ever aired back on the screen savers.
>> It's just that Thermite tends to get the neighbors a little anxious, they dial 911. It's a good thing...
>> The fumes of black smoke.
>> The house is on fire. It's great. Not so great if you're doing something else. Now if you use an acid that also is a huge pain in the [inaudible] because, you know, even if you're done and you know how to use it, you still got to dispose of the acid and you know what, do not pour down the storm drain because I will personally find you and kick you between the legs.
>> Alright, we got a couple of hard drives right here. You're gonna need a Torx bit from a jeweler set to get in to most drives, so look for an 8-in-1 or 6-in-1 Torx Precision screw driver kit. Those are the little tiny ones. That's one reason why most commercial operations just shred the whole darn thing because they don't want deal with one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight -- well, a whole bunch of screws to basically get to the one part you really care about. The reality, the only thing you care about is the platters. Assuming you're not so paranoid as to why cache chips to, but that's easily done with the hammer, takes few seconds and...
>> I've told you he's cave man-nish.
>> Pretty sure is those are wiped.
>> Hopefully so.
>> Hold up the platter. The reality is is you really only care about a few microns on the surface of the platter on the top.
>> Micros if that in the bottom.
>> Most disks are aluminum or glass, coated with a thin -- incredibly thin mixture of mostly non-porous stuff and a little bit of porous material and that's basically what holds the magnetic bits that record your data. You make that layer go away and your data is gone, gone, gone. At least until somebody can reassemble dust into the zeros and ones that your data was made up of. If you're lucky, your platters are glass. You hit them, they shatter, you hit them a few more times, you have dust. Wear goggles if you don't know what your platters are made of. The glass ones, they're under tension. They tend to explode when you hit them. It's a little scary if you're not expecting it. Now if your platter is dense other then explodes, you will demonstrate up here.
>> That's what...
>> That's when the fun can start.
>> How much of that aluminum can you actually -- can you drop that off the same place where you drop off aluminum cans?
>> You know, I would assume so, but I've never actually inquired.
>> Because I'm wondering if they get a nickel for a can. How many nickels they'll give you for one of those.
>> Absolutely nothing because the nickel in the can is a deposit in return. However, you could possibly sell the aluminum certainly in the frame to the aluminum recycler. So I think you're both recycling on.
>> So much for my quick road to riches. Now by the way, there's a little bit of catharsis here, right because you're angry at computers or maybe I'm angry at computers a lot of the time, but if you're destroying hundreds heck dozens of disks every year, you should be thinking about the degaussing or a shredding tool or a professional service. If not, this is a great chance to practice anger management. If you got a sadder or a grinder just throw some 80 grid on it, clamp the disk and device this is assuming you remove the disk from the drive and grind off the surface. I find bending the disk over 90 degrees first, makes it easier to hold the device and easier to sand. Well, the little tiny magnetic bits off this surface of the disk.
>> Now you can also use the grinding wheel for this essentially just joooo in a way.
>> It basically or you know any kind of sand drawer on that. Melting a disk is a lot more fun. It's so easy. If you have a settling torch or as Barry Wood site shows a personal propane forge I want one or you could do a -- we're able to spend 50 bucks for BerzOMatic style welding kit. It takes a while, not nearly as fast as your traditional oxy settling cutting torch or the heat as they like to call it in the shop, but definitely a way to wipe a disk out.
>> Now, you know will any torch or can you use a propane torch, as well.
>> You need a -- propane torches don't seem to do much of any -- I'm sue it does some damage to the data on there, but when you're talking about the difference between -- well, you know this is a disk that's been hit by propane and this is a disk that basically a regular propane torch and this is the disk that's been hit, you know by an oxy or settling torch or map gas torch.
>> Actually I have one question. Are there any fumes or anything you need to be aware of once you start roasting this?
>> Do not do this indoors.
>> Do it in a ventilated area. Do not breathe over the thing you are vaporizing. I don't know what's coming off of this, but I know it's incredibly sophisticated. Basically, there's a lot of fascinating chemicals that go into the surface of a hard drive platter. You don't want to breathe in any of them.
>> It's good to know because the last thing I wanna do is be cooking this and putting some marshmallows over it. Now, don't you think all that is just a little bit, a little bit, a little bit overkill?
>> Sure for most people. But it's fun and it doesn't mean your data is gone at least by early 21st century standards. And you know the truth is you probably should use professional service. It's the responsible thing to do, but again you know if you're just donating to a good cause and you weren't using your machine in some super secret Manhattan project style, you know event, I think you're pretty good with using Darik's Boot 'n Nuke.
>> Yeah, absolutely. Although it does kind of have me thinking about encrypting drives.
>> Not this show.
>> We'd like to take a moment now for a short message for the United States Air Force.
>> This is a about once a month and I've got three launches here in the next 30 days. So if you wanna be in the space program, the Air Force is a great way to do it.
>> To do just that.
>> Most people don't realize, the Air Force space program is equivalent to NASA in size and scope and in most cases larger. Now the shuttle launch is about once a month and I've got three launches here in the next 30 days. So if you wanna be in the space program, the Air Force is a great way to do it.
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>> Alright, we got a file of links for you back at revision3.com/systm including links to Darik's Boot 'n Nuke, some alternative software applications, probably the map, gas, torch and definitely some good reading on hard drive sanitization. Now that's it for this edition of Systm. We hope you've enjoyed watching it.
>> Feel free to e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Catch up on the previous episodes at revision3.com/systm and if you want to complain to fellow viewers from the strait barbs or just jocular style you guys are all famous for.
>> You can say nice things to.
>> Nay, you can say nice things. Do that over at our forums at revision3.com/forum.
>> Don't forget to check out [inaudible] this week. How DDS comes to grips with the failed US economy and how you can stay ahead of the curve or rather the collapse. They also take a look at the new Android G1 phone, Google's mobile OS, awesome, amazing hardware soft ware platform. Also look for space invaders any global art project reality game and demo a few online tools to track where your favorite bands are playing. Brand new episodes of epic flu release every Tuesday at 6 PM Eastern, 2 PM Pacific.
>> That's it for this week.
>> I'm Roger Chang filling in for David Calkins out battling other robots on the other side of the country.
>> I'm Patrick Norton. We will definitely see you next time.
>> General Chang, what is it?
>> I figure 'cause you were a producer, you'd like follow the plan. Read everything on that screen, but...
>> You need a plan to start out with.
>> Alright, in three, two -- now.
>> And three.
>> He's going play [inaudible]. Isn't he...