published by Indigo Productions

 

Data Security The Old-Fashioned Way—How to Wipe a Hard Drive Clean?

I was just running a late-night errand, and when exiting the elevator, I noticed a guy continuously pounding on the surface of the driveway with a hammer.  My presumably-neighbor was outside the glass front-door entrance, but since I took the trash with me, I had to take the back door.  I quickly jumped into my truck and drove around to the front to investigate.

When I pulled into the driveway, I realized the hammer-handler was indeed a neighbor of mine, one that I’m friendly with, so I stopped next to him and lowered the window—”Do you need any help, neighbor?”  The WASP-y 40-some year old approached my vehicle and proceeded with explaining how he needed a new computer, because his old PC running on an XP platform (incidentally, by and large my all-time favorite Microsoft operating system [OS], although any video production calls for an Apple, so that’s by far the personal computer of choice at Indigo Productions), which is no longer supported, and how he was told to remove the hard drive and smash it before discarding.

Can Data be Recovered From RAM Memory Modules?

I looked down, and there it was, an ordinary hard disk drive (HDD) laying there on bare concrete, showing signs of extreme abuse.  There were also two RAM modules next to the drive.  I didn’t make anything of it then, but in retrospect there is no point in smashing RAM mods because Random Access Memory does not store data after the computer has been turned off (not to mention after removal of the part).  It seems such a waste to discard them, because those things are rather expensive and costly to manufacture in terms of pollution, so I’d love if people sold them or donate them instead of simply discarding.  Caring for the planet is our collective responsibility and this is a good example how YOU can make a difference with little things,—a mindset really.  A quick Google search reveals that Staples offers a free technology recycling service.  As I noted earlier, you can always sell your old and unused RAM modules (as well as other computer parts, of course).  Another Google search quickly reveals a great article from Jim Fitzsimmons about where to sell obsolete RAM modules, worth checking out not only by tech geeks!

For a techie geek such as myself, that was a rather amazing experience, which I vocalized by telling my neighbor that although I took Information Security and Data Security in college, I have never seen somebody actually follow the rules to the letter and personally smash a hard drive like he was doing.

I shared some info with him, including the supposed U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) recommendation to format a hard drive three times in order to fully remove data—DoD 5220.22-M, a part of the National Industrial Security Program, abbreviated NISP, although this has been challenged as an urban legend.

We chatted briefly but, although knowledgeable about websites and Internet marketing, my neighbor quite obviously didn’t know much and I took pity on him and told him that with so much smashing, there is no way anybody could recover any data from that hard drive anymore.  Apparently it helped, because my neighborino smiled and said, “Great, thanks! I don’t have to wield this hammer any more!”

How to Wipe a Hard Drive Clean?

My neighbor’s method was rather old-fashioned but definitely effective.  There is a question to be answered here.  How to wipe a hard drive clean?  I’m sure there are other ways to do it but here are some to consider:

Non-Physical Data Deletion Methods

Format the hard drive and override all data.
Format the hard drive multiple times.
Use a data deletion program.
Use a permanent data deletion service.
Use data recovery company—whom would you trust to remove data effectively if not the guys who recover it for a living?

Physical Data Destruction Methods

Smash it.
Submerge the hard drive in water.
Burn it.
Disassemble it and cut the actual disk platters.

Do you know of any better methods to do this?  Maybe a suggestion to do it in an environmentally friendly way or one that would be safe for data and still get us paid for the part?  If so, please do share with us!

This blog article has been written for the official video production blog of Indigo Productions.

Thanks for reading—hope you enjoyed it! 🙂

Cheers!

 

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Category: Information Security
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