[LINK] Self-erasing flash drives destroy court evidence

Kim Holburn kim at holburn.net
Thu Mar 3 12:36:35 AEDT 2011

On 2011/Mar/03, at 10:58 AM, Birch, Jim wrote:

> This looks at the inverse problem, sanitising SSDs. Abstract with link
> to full PDF.
> "... none of the existing hard drive-oriented techniques for individual
> file sanitization are effective on SSDs."
> http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2011/03/erasing_data_fr.html

There's two interesting comments in that blog:

The first one :
> Also note the paper did not go into "failure modes".
> That is the drives they looked at to get the results were still working.
> Usually we only get rid of drives for two reasons,
> 1, Upgrade (which this paper covers)
> 2, Fault (which this paper does not).
> Now...
> Fault on SSD's is way way way more complicated than on mechanical drives.
> For simplistic explanation of why this is important think for instance of the drive as having an internal fuse that blows and the drive stops working. If you know about the fuse then you replace it and carry on working. If you don't you chuck the drive in the trash where potentialy somebody who does know will replace the fuse and read your data.
> Contary to what many think when an electronic item fails it can usually be repaired as it only fails in one specific place and the rest of it is unharmed.
> Thus data on an SSD is highly vulnerable unless you realy know how to destroy each and every chip beyond recovery.
> Doing this is actualy very very difficult which is why such chips are used in those "black box" flight recorders...

ie: if a drive faults it may be nearly impossible to wipe.

link to gizmodo article here:

> Dry Cleaners: 17,000 USB Sticks Were Left In Laundries In 2010

Kim Holburn
IT Network & Security Consultant
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