The Null Device

Data-mining used hard disks

Here's why you should destroy your old hard disks: two MIT graduate students, Simson Garfinkel (known for his work in computer security) and Abhi Shelat, did an experiment in data-mining old hard disks; they bought 158 second-hand hard disks; on 49 of those disks, they were able to recover "significant personal information", including medical correspondence, love letters, pornography and credit card numbers. And if students can find these sorts of things, it's sure that some businessman of above-average ethical flexibility will have thought of the same thing.

(It's funny that there are no pages on effective ways to physically destroy hard disks beyond recovery. There must be quicker, easier and more efficient means than smashing them with a sledgehammer or tossing them in an incinerator. Cory Doctorow recommended dropping platters in acid in one of his stories; though, obviously, exact instructions weren't given. You'd think that some paranoiac on the Internet would have done the research and posted it for the benefit of fellow victims of persecution.)

There are 3 comments on "Data-mining used hard disks":

Posted by: Eric http:// Sat Jan 18 01:46:16 2003

Microwave em! It also provides a very artistic-pattern that you can hang on your wall.

Suprise your guests when they realise they paid $35,000 for the same 'artwork' in [insert trendy-arty suburb in your local city]

*[* ===

Posted by: acb http://dev.null.org Sat Jan 18 15:52:07 2003

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't microwaving slabs of metal (even if coated with magnetic coating) be a rather bad idea? Or are you thinking of CDs?

Posted by: Ben http:// Sun Jan 19 01:45:23 2003

Use the microwaves at the 7-11.

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