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Unclean Military Hard Drives Sold On eBay

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the they-should-know-better dept.

The Military 369

An anonymous reader writes "The Daily Mail reports, 'Highly sensitive details of a US military missile air defense system were found on a second-hand hard drive bought on eBay. The test launch procedures were found on a hard disk for the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) ground to air missile defense system, used to shoot down Scud missiles in Iraq. The disk also contained security policies, blueprints of facilities, and personal information on employees (including social security numbers) belonging to technology company Lockheed Martin — who designed and built the system.' Scary that they did not wipe it to Department of Defense standards, which I believe is wiping the whole disk and then writing 1010 all over it."

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I have to wonder (4, Insightful)

Lord Grey (463613) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858245)

The article states that this finding was the result of a study where a few hundred drives (300+) were purchased from various places and then scanned.

A spokesman for BT said they found 34 per cent of the hard disks scrutinised contained 'information of either personal data that could be identified to an individual or commercial data identifying a company or organisation.'

Later:

For a very large proportion of the disks we looked at we found enough information to expose both individuals and companies to a range of potential crimes such as fraud, blackmail and identity theft.

Where are the corresponding crimes? If a third of the used hard drives on the market really contain such detailed personal or business information, wouldn't you think that at least one group of criminals would be buying as many of these drives as possible? Granted that there would be capital outlay, but a lot of that is recovered by selling the drives again through the vary same channels, and the risk of getting caught would be extremely low. Quantity of information is lower than with network-based methods (eg, keyloggers, sniffers, etc.) or other information-gathering methods, but I would think the quality of the gathered data would be much, much higher. Good enough to resell for a relatively high amount.

It seems, to me, that there is a bit of hyperbole going on here.

Re:I have to wonder (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858347)

Where are the corresponding crimes? If a third of the used hard drives on the market really contain such detailed personal or business information, wouldn't you think that at least one group of criminals would be buying as many of these drives as possible?

Uh, what makes you think that they aren't? Your comment is utterly devoid of value unless you can prove a negative somehow. Good luck!

Re:I have to wonder (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27858429)

Your comment is utterly devoid of value unless you can prove you have something worthwhile to respond with. Good luck!

Re:I have to wonder (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27858541)

Your comment is utterly devoid of value because you're stupid.

Re:I have to wonder (5, Funny)

sadness203 (1539377) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858587)

Your comment is so fat it was... oh ... no, wrong joke.

Re:I have to wonder (2, Insightful)

Hyppy (74366) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858553)

You're on the right track. Quite a few crimes of this nature are not reported, at least not publicly.

Re:I have to wonder (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27858809)

Do retorts like yours really pass for good reasoning on Slashdot?

What makes you think that the Universe isn't containing within the eye of a pink singing elephant? Your view on the Universe is utterly devoid of value unless you can prove a negative somehow. Good luck!

Concentrate carefully: when event e happens, we can make a list of events f_1...f_n that we think might lead to e. Let's hypothesise that one such event f_j leads to e. Our first mission is deductive - to demonstrate that f_j can lead to e, and that e can occur.

Our second mission, however, is philosophical induction - has it actually been observed sufficiently often that f_j leads to e for us to assume that it is typical for f_j to lead to e?

You've collected enough points to complete the first mission, and assumed that the second just magically happens. No Western philosophical approach follows the "well that could be the cause, and the set of prerequisites have occurred at least once, so who's to say it's not the cause?" line of argument. It could be used to argue so many nonsenses that the scientific approach would be overwhelmed.

Re:I have to wonder (5, Insightful)

noundi (1044080) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858459)

... wouldn't you think that at least one group of criminals would be buying as many of these drives as possible?

Well the black market is a quite complicated. The only groups with enough funding and enough motive to even try to obtain this information (disregarding the middlemen that you're mentioning) would be other nations. Let's say you're an exceptional nerd with enough skills to extract this data into usable form (I think it would be fair to say that many /.-ers fit or could fit this profile given some time to research). How would you go about selling this information to let's say North Korea? Who would you contact? Better yet, who would they allow you to speak to? I doubt you can just pick up the phone and ask the operator to "hook you up with the illest of Kim Jongs". But let's say you actually do get to speak with him (or anybody of importance really). How's your Korean? Ok final hypothesis, let's say you actually do speak Korean. What are you going to say? It's not like you're calling from AT&T to offer him 5$ less monthly fee if he subscribes to the service for 24 additional months.

Basically I see where you're coming from but I wouldn't take the procedure so lightly. Plus there's possibly a lot more important information floating around somewhere that never "got in the wrong hands" as well.

Re:I have to wonder (1)

gadget junkie (618542) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858785)

people always underestimate the dangers of physical delivery.
Let's think this through: I am a smartie who knows computers and is interested in blackmail. Where do I get thosehard disks? you see, ebay and such are markets, so you have to tell them where you want those disks sent, under what name, on which credit card....then you must retrieve them, probably giving some proof of identity.
So, given that my objectives are:

1. get rich;
2. do NOT get caught in the process;

I do not think that's the best option.
For example, if I had sold the THAAD data to North Korea, i'd probably get a free ticket to some strange place, with refreshments.Waterboarding anyone?

Re:I have to wonder (3, Interesting)

DZign (200479) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858861)

After reading the book 'spies among us' I've learned that making contact for selling information is just as simple as walking
to an embassy/consulate from the specific country and asking to speak with someone about information..

Re:I have to wonder (1)

sandbenders (301132) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858887)

Hmm. I could probably round up half a dozen Korean-speakers who can run a disk-recovery application properly, given an hour or two. Ok, so, I live in a university town and I have an advantage, I'll admit it.

But I think that it's entirely possible that someone who has run a couple of small scams successfully could parlay that cash into buying several hundred hard drives. Finding name/SSN sets on one of these hard drives has plenty of value for identity thieves right here in the U. S. of A. It's not only the launch codes that have value, it's also all the other data.

Re:I have to wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27858833)

I think you missed the point, you paraphrase just says "we found enough information to expose ", which means in the wrong hands it would be a problem. Fortunately for us, anyone who actually got their hands on one these unclean either didn't know what they had or had a shred of decency and didn't decide to rape the government.

The other thing of note, is that because of our well publicly advertised security policies, the bad guys were probably either unaware or didn't believe they could obtain this type of information so easily.....until now....since they decided to make this info public I'm sure some evil groups are gonna start buying up used drives on ebay and then resell the ones which had crap on them, keeping the ones juicy intel.

Unclean? (4, Informative)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858267)

I guess we'll need to format them in a purifying fire then.

Re:Unclean? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27858367)

I agree. If you have sensitive data on a disk (or paper or anything else) DESTROY it. Fire is best and most useful but other methods are possible.

Re:Unclean? (4, Informative)

auric_dude (610172) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858417)

Or use http://www.dban.org/node/68 [dban.org] - good enough for The Government Of Canada so good enough for these disks?

Re:Unclean? (3, Insightful)

Hyppy (74366) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858585)

Most DoD member units approve DBAN already. Especially when it's set to the platter-melting 35-pass Guttman Wipe.

The problem is when someone DOESN'T follow proper procedures. Rules are great and all, but someone is always going to break them in some way

Re:Unclean? (3, Informative)

Nimey (114278) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858915)

Since you apparently don't know what you're talking about: the 35-pass wipe is bullshit, and even the author says so.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gutmann_method#Criticism [wikipedia.org]

Essentially some of those patterns are specifically for obsolete MFM drives, and others are specifically for equally obsolete RLL drives. Nowadays you should just use random patterns, and even the DoD is fine with 7 passes.

Re:Unclean? (1)

socsoc (1116769) | more than 5 years ago | (#27859003)

I don't get why everybody doesn't use DBAN, private or government (as long as it meets their needs). I proudly tell my staff members that machines have been wiped to DoD levels before disposal.

Re:Unclean? (4, Funny)

Mendoksou (1480261) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858535)

It's finally time to start up my competitor to the NSA. The American Security Service (acronym to be determined) will, for the cost of hard drives on ebay (as well as some key other components... you never know what might be hidden in all those GPUs... we'd better test them. And those CPUs... and that RAM... and those computer games...), provide quality security and defense against our enemies. Especially if those enemies happen to be in the games I'm playing at the time.

Re:Unclean? (5, Funny)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 5 years ago | (#27859005)

Aww, you just went for a cheap laugh.

When you said The American Security Service (acronym to be determined) I thought for sure, you were going to start a wiping service!

Scary that they sold the disk at all (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27858301)

You can wipe a disk with "dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda" and nobody will get anything from it after that, but the problem isn't the technical feasibility of securely wiping a hard disk: It's a problem of procedure. If hard disks are sold, there's always going to be a mishap where disks which were supposed to be wiped are not and sold with the data intact. Also, why was this data not encrypted? Anyway, hard disks are just not worth enough to take these risks. Destroy the disks and do it in-house.

Re:Scary that they sold the disk at all (4, Interesting)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858455)

There are much quicker ways then that. In fact, at my old office, we had NSA approved degaussing equipment for hard drives, that destroyed the data permanently (no amount of forensics will be able to retrieve it), but left the drive itself intact for reuse or resale.

The fun part of course is that when you turn it on.. 2 or 3 floors of lights all dimmed at the same time for a few seconds while it powered up and it hummed.. loudly... Thats a powerful magnet :)

Re:Scary that they sold the disk at all (5, Informative)

rongage (237813) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858549)

Modern drives have "servo tracks" on them - used for setting the head position. If you use an eraser powerful enough to wipe the drive, then the servo track is most likely also wiped - rendering the drive totally useless to most folk.

Re:Scary that they sold the disk at all (3, Informative)

samos69 (977266) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858815)

Yup, we just purchased a Verity degausser to wipe some drives before donating them to charity and have found that the servo track is wiped and they become completely useless... £1800 wasted, but it's damn fun to wipe things with!

Re:Scary that they sold the disk at all (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27858613)

Degaussing a hard drive permanently damages it (if you can do it, that is). Not only will all servo information be lost, modern hard drives also store the firmware on the disks. Deleting the firmware significantly reduces the reuse potential and resale value of a hard disk.

Re:Scary that they sold the disk at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27858967)

um guys.... hard drives have metal cases...magnetic fields flow through metal...If the field flows though the case it doesn't flow through the disk(pretty much part of the design)...disk is not erased.

are you one of those idiots that still thinks using an electric screwdriver on a PC will erase the hard drive

Re:Scary that they sold the disk at all (3, Informative)

s0litaire (1205168) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858513)

i'd use "dd if=/dev/urandom of=/dev/sda" Urandom is slower but better..

Re:Scary that they sold the disk at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27858695)

There's no point doing that. If you could recover anything which has been overwritten with 0s, you could recover it just as well if it has been overwritten with something else. Hard disks do not write the pattern directly. Everything is encoded in a way which guarantees certain signal properties. A stream of zeros does not end up on disk as a constant magnetization.

Re:Scary that they sold the disk at all (2, Informative)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858707)

You've got it backwards. Urandom reuses the entrophy pool, so it will not block, but will be slower. /dev/random is the real deal.

Re:Scary that they sold the disk at all (1)

chad.koehler (859648) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858769)

But if you use /dev/urandom you never know WHAT they'll be able to get off of your harddrive! For you know you SS# could be there! ;)

Re:Scary that they sold the disk at all (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27858897)

No, there is a probability that the random data is the same as the original. Would you take that chance?

Re:Scary that they sold the disk at all (2, Informative)

multisync (218450) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858999)

i'd use "dd if=/dev/urandom of=/dev/sda" Urandom is slower but better..

If you have access to dd, you probably have access to shred. It makes several passes using different patterns (25 by default), and has the option of zeroing the drive on the last pass. I believe it meets DOD standards. I'm not sure how effective it is with slack space, which often holds recoverable data even after running utilities that are supposed to wipe data off drives, but dd wouldn't be any better.

please... (5, Interesting)

VMaN (164134) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858303)

Before people start discussing if drives should be overwritten 32 or 2^32 times, please show me ONE proven example of a regularly zeroed drive being recovered.

This challenge has stood for more than a year.
http://16systems.com/zero.php [16systems.com]

Re:please... (5, Insightful)

canix (1176421) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858401)

It is possible that the people most likely to have the resources and expertise to do this (i.e. govt. security depts.) don't want to announce that they have this capability ...

Re:please... (1)

phillips321 (955784) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858715)

I thought the same thing. Surely dd is good, but i prefer to use shred, especially if I'm deleting some 'ill shit'!

Re:please... (5, Funny)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858409)

In the UK, the government uses magnetic fields generated by train seats to erase sensitive data.

Re:please... (1, Redundant)

RivieraKid (994682) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858507)

If only I had mod points.

It's both funny and tragic because it's true.

Re:please... (0, Troll)

zombie_monkey (1036404) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858495)

> Should someone win, they get to keep the drive. They also will receive $500.00 USD and the title "King (or Queen) of Data Recovery".

Oh my, some schmuck on the internet is offering to send us a used hard drive and promises to give us $500 (in another place on the same site, $40). Our company must definitely do this!

Re:please... (1)

tsalmark (1265778) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858519)

Even if it is doable, no one is going to buy random 0'ed drives to run through an electron microscope just to see if there maybe a few thousand dollars worth of blackmail on it.

Re:please... (3, Insightful)

WoLpH (699064) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858633)

Why would any company enter a challenge like that? What data recovery company would comply to this: "You also must publicly disclose in a reproducible manner the method(s) used to win the challenge."?

Regardless of wheter it is possible or not, it is definately not worth the trouble for anyone.

Re:please... (5, Insightful)

Hyppy (74366) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858647)

$500 to recover a drive, eh? If I had a data recovery business, I'd hang up on you too. If you want people to take you seriously, then perhaps you should present yourself in a serious manner. Offering $500 and a basement-made "King of Data Recovery" title is not a serious challenge. It's a slap in the face to any legitimate data recovery business to be "challenged" like that.

Re:please... (1)

tiananmen tank man (979067) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858795)

The reward is a $60 harddrive with a 80gig capacity, yea who wouldnt want to spend a lot of time recoverying data for that.

That site mentions that they will send the harddrive to any "established, professional data recovery company" with free shipping and then down the page it says "Send a self-addressed, postage-paid box with packaging material to the address listed below and we will mail the drive to you."

DoD wiping standards (5, Informative)

mati.stankiewicz (1326159) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858337)

"which I believe is wiping the whole disk and then writing 1010 all over it."

Taken from DoD 5220.22-M Wipe Standard:

"[...]DoD requires overwriting with a pattern, then its complement, and finally with another pattern; e.g., overwrite first with 0011 0101 [35h], followed by 1100 1010 [CBh], then 1001 0111 [97h]. The number of times an overwrite must be accomplished depends on the storage media, sometimes on its sensitivity, and sometimes on differing DoD component requirements. In any case, a purge is not complete until a final overwrite is made using unclassified data."

Re:DoD wiping standards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27858377)

In Australia the defense wipe standard is to crush the disk into little bits, I think we win :)

Re:DoD wiping standards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27858443)

As it should be. We do that here, at just a University. It becomes a nice powder.

Re:DoD wiping standards (1)

Hyppy (74366) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858479)

For sensitive drives, many U.S. units do in fact destroy the platters. Usually, it's a matter of smashing the drives into teeny little bits, then melting them.

Re:DoD wiping standards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27858913)

Will It Blend?

Re:DoD wiping standards (4, Interesting)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858497)

Certain 3 letter facilities in the US do that.. in fact, any electronic equipment going in.. never leaves. I have seen the destruction of a thumb drive that accidentally made it into the facility (many people arrived for a meeting there), but was caught on the way out and destroyed.

Same facility provides all electronic equipment needed for various press events and what not.

Financial Firms Do the Same (5, Informative)

TheGreatDonkey (779189) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858365)

I perform computer forensics work, and part of my research towards obtaining my degree was going to the MIT Swap Meet (great event) and buying used hard disks from vendors on occasion. In about 90% of the cases, the user appeared to have simply "deleted" the files, with nothing more. Now, I would expect this for a normal home user, not knowing any better, but the biggest thing of concern was the number of drives that came from various corporate entities. I was able to see and read data from drives that clearly came from several major banks, including mortgage apps, SSN's, corporate planning documents, etc. Again, the files appeared to have been simply "deleted" by the IT folk, instead of securely wiped, making it trivial at best to read everything.

So while this example is no better, I believe it highlights an ongoing problem that involves better user education and disk encryption helps solve.

Re:Financial Firms Do the Same (2, Interesting)

Moschaef (624770) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858521)

At our company the policy is to destroy all drives withdrawn from operations. The problem is with our local IT support telling management they've destroyed the drive but then selling them for their own personal gain. They're already stealing property so I doubt that they're much concerned about proprietary/sensitive data.

We had a similar problem several years back when we switched 1,000+ CRT monitors to LCDs. The CRTs weren't the issue, no one wanted them, rather it was the DVI cables. The techs used the old VGA cables and sold the DVI cables on EBAY for $5 bucks a piece.

Of course this is something no reader of SlashDot would ever condone... Right...

Re:Financial Firms Do the Same (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 5 years ago | (#27859055)

Of course this is something no reader of SlashDot would ever condone... Right...

Because the typical Slashdot reader is a thief?

Stupid thing is, your post actually had an interesting anecdote and made a good point. And then you decided to close off with a nice, unnecessarily dickish comment.

Re:Financial Firms Do the Same (3, Funny)

notarockstar1979 (1521239) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858805)

I created the secure wiping policy for my department. It involves an axe. I get to use it on anyone who tries selling old drives instead of having them shredded.

Little OT Anecdote (5, Informative)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858373)

I used to work for a major OEM whose clients included the military, along with other branches of the US government. The military in particular had a "strict" policy about hard drives: they did NOT RMA them EVER. If a PC of theirs was to be returned or sent in for service, it arrived without the hard drive.

What's the point of such strict policy towards your supplier if some dumbass from within will just pawn it off on Ebay?? It's not the first time this happens.

Re:Little OT Anecdote (1)

Hyppy (74366) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858515)

Either way, the point of a policy is not to be broken. I'm sure Private Murphy or Contractor Black wasn't following proper procedure when he decided to sell some old hard drives for beer money.

Re:Little OT Anecdote (3, Interesting)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858579)

The problem is not necessarily from a gov branch, but most likely a supporting contractor, in this case Lockheed martin.

Same reason why those same contractors are forbidden from using VPN from gov facilities (DOD and Federal atleast) to their home offices. In the past, a certain contractor from a certain company at a certain 5 pointed facility introduced some lovely malware that spread like wildfire fromthe contractors company to the gov facility.

However, like I said, while policy says what not to do, deadlines and management looking the other way sometimes to meet those deadlines and whatnot go against those policies, sometimes nothing happens, sometimes bad things happen.

In other news.. (5, Funny)

ShanxT (1280784) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858381)

..the market is being flooded with Chinese made ground to air missile defence systems, available for a quarter of the price, and half the accuracy.
Fine Print: THERE IS NO WARRANTY FOR THE SYSTEM, TO THE EXTENT PERMITTED BY APPLICABLE LAW

Why not just destroy these disks? (2, Insightful)

JackassJedi (1263412) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858383)

Why does the DoD not simply destroy the disks in question?

Re:Why not just destroy these disks? (1)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858451)

Exactly. Grind them up. If they can grind up cars in a junkyard, surely someone can make a smaller device to grind up a hard drive.

Re:Why not just destroy these disks? (1)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858617)

My guess was that this was not a DoD system, and probably not at the DoD facilities, but rather at the contractor facilities.

They are however (which is written into the contract that was signed when the project was awarded) required to comply with DoD regulations. It appears that in this case, probably during a technology refresh would be my guess, that there was a shit ton of old equipment, and the IT folks got lazy, since securely wiping a drive without a degausser of sorts takes a very long time.

Re:Why not just destroy these disks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27858641)

To make a few bucks ?

Re:Why not just destroy these disks? (5, Interesting)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858831)

Why does the DoD not simply destroy the disks in question?

Sometimes it's easier to detect a security problem by letting some information leak.

Uhh (0, Redundant)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858431)

Why does anyone sell hard drives second hand, anyways? Most organizations and people buy them, and keep using the old disk until it either dies or becomes so obsolete that it's no longer worth using. How much value does some old 60 gig hard drive have on ebay, anyways? New 1 terrabyte drives are a mere $70 at newegg!

Re:Uhh (3, Interesting)

linzeal (197905) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858503)

The problem is when people have a whole bunch of them and 100 40 gig hard drives sold at a flea market can pickup 2000 dollars some weekends. I did a pull once where the guy was savvy enough to wipe the hard disks but did not check all the CD-Rom drives, half of which had CDs in them with corporate information. Looking it over I could of easily sold the info to an unscrupulous competitor but decided to just send them to him COD for cost of postage.

Re:Uhh (1)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858879)

100 * 40 gigs = 4 terrabytes. Or 4 $70 drives off of newegg.com, shipped to you brand new. With warranty. Who is dumb enough to pay anything for a crummy worn 40 gig drive? I shudder to think of the power draw of 100 drives grinding away.

Re:Uhh (1)

cowbutt (21077) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858565)

The end-users probably aren't (officially) selling their used drives; they're probably selling their three year old machines by the kilo to an authorised disposal agent, who in turn wipes the drives (or is contractually supposed to do so) then either sells the machines as used, or breaks them into components for sale as used.

Re:Uhh (1)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858569)

Why does anyone sell hard drives second hand, anyways? Most organizations and people buy them, and keep using the old disk until it either dies or becomes so obsolete that it's no longer worth using. How much value does some old 60 gig hard drive have on ebay, anyways? New 1 terrabyte drives are a mere $70 at newegg!

I can imagine that the drives might come from retired PCs. Many companies replace their PCs every X years for various reasons: their lease ran out, the PCs are too underpowered for current software, or upgrading/maintaining the old machines becomes too much of a hastle.

After disposal/donation/selling those PCs have to go somewhere, so I'd imagine they get broken up into their main components and sold off. Selling a PII-266 might be a tall order but someone might want that 60GB HD.

Re:Uhh (1)

iccaros (811041) | more than 5 years ago | (#27859007)

for my Alesis HD24 http://www.alesis.com/hd24 [alesis.com] old IDE drives is what this multi-track recorder users.. a 500 or even a 100 gig drive is a waste in the machine as you are limited in number of songs and audio tracks. Plus I have had issues with the machines undo features and modern drives. and sadly the newest version still expects the same old IDE drives.. which are hard enough to find. now to hard drives containing classified information.. agency's are only allowed to reuse drives on systems of the same classification or higher.. so if the data was on a secret system, once wiped can only be used on other Secret or higher systems. other wise must be destroyed. a lot of this supposed classified information is sensitive but unclass. which is not a classification but a handling instruction. The unclass part is a classification, and the lowest protection level, so things slip, solders send computers to DRMO with out following procedure as its only unclass, but they forget the handling as procedure as SBU, and news stories like this get out. also most of this looks like corporate design information or even some engineers stored information on projects he is working on and all may be SBU or even fouo, but most companies do not have a requirement to wipe drives before reselling them or returning them from a lease, and if he did work on his home computer all bets are off.

Nearly right... (5, Funny)

LoyalOpposition (168041) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858441)

scary that they did not wipe it to Department of Defense standards which I believe is wiping the whole disk and then writing 1010 all over it.

That's nearly right. The actual procedure is to wipe it to DoD standards, and then load it up with fake documents.

-Loyal

Who is really to blame? (4, Insightful)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858461)

Did lockheed actually own these machines, or do they lease them? My guess is LM (like most larger companies) has a contract with someone like CSC/IBM/etc who actually owns, maintains, and replaces machines. This is probably where the ball was dropped. Every 3 years here CSC replaces 10s of thousands of PCs that they are itching to sell off before they depreciate into worthlessness. I can certainly see them taking short cuts, or missing a few. This is the problem with outsourcing IT infrastructure. They don't always really understand or care about the same thing as you.

Re:Who is really to blame? (1)

Senator24 (1505201) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858829)

Did lockheed actually own these machines, or do they lease them?

They do. I use to work for Lockheed and I was a sub contractor and we basically handled all the PC's. I was hired through a temp agency and most of the guys I worked for were also part of the temp agency. A lot of those guys didn't care if the HD was wiped good enough or not. Just as long as the PC wouldn't boot up. Then the HD's were shipped off and I'm guessing resold.

Re:Who is really to blame? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27858933)

Actually they care more about something like that. If it was determined the outsourcing company failed to follow procedures for a classified project; they could lose the entire contract (multi million dollar). I know one thing that motivates companies and that's money.

(btw, I work for CSC)

Probably illegally sold (5, Interesting)

roger_that (24034) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858463)

The drives were probably illegally sold. DoD requires the destruction of classified drives, and contractors are supposed to follow the same rules. If the drive(s) in question held classified data (which they apparently did), they should have been wiped, then physically destroyed. Sounds like someone bypassed the last step, and tried to make a little profit on the side, by selling the "destroyed" drive.

Disclaimer: I work for a contractor on a US Government contract, working with classified data. (at the five-sided building)

Re:Probably illegally sold (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27858937)

Disclaimer: I work for a contractor on a US Government contract, working with classified data. (at the five-sided building)

You worked in a square pyramid?

Re:Probably illegally sold (2, Funny)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 5 years ago | (#27859031)

the five-sided building

...most buildings have a roof and 4 walls, so that doesn't exactly narrow it down.

Is it just me... (4, Funny)

s0litaire (1205168) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858485)

Or are these types of stories probably sponsored by E-Bay's PR department..

Just think of all those people now bidding on old hard drives now... Probably won't be able to pick one up for under £99 by the end of the week :D

That reminds me... Got a few old ones to sell myself... :D:D

Why resell? (0, Redundant)

baker_tony (621742) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858501)

I can't understand why they sell them rather than destroying them! Mental. Hard Drives are so freaken cheap these days, how much money would they make weighed against the risk of data recovery?

For Highly Classified Data, it's more than a wipe (3, Informative)

sirwired (27582) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858527)

I worked in a highly classified facility once. The wipe "standard" was to hire a lowly intern (such as myself), remove the platters from the case, take them out back, and sandblast them. The agencies scientists had decided degaussing wasn't good enough.

SirWired

Sounds like gruntwork to me (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27858537)

First part of story. scary that they did not wipe it to Department of Defense standards which I believe is wiping the whole disk and then writing 1010 all over it.

I just had a mental image of a private being assigned a sharpie and a room full of hard drives, furiously writing 1010 on each one.

DoD standards (2, Interesting)

konigstein (966024) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858543)

Are to overwrite the harddrive 9 times, then degauss (which makes a loud POP and the magnetic information is GONE, and THEN to drill 6 holes through the drive. The DoD policy memo can be found here http://www.drms.dla.mil/turn-in/usable/cpu-memo-jun01.pdf [dla.mil]

The procedureâ(TM)s more than *that*! (1)

kuleiana (629890) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858547)

The procedure is actually to write random bits (01101111010110000 etc) at least seven to 13 times! This doesnâ(TM)t 100% guarantee nonrecovery, but it comes very close. Also, most hard drives are *not* regularly zeroed out (in free space), unless thereâ(TM)s a security policy in place at that particular facility/organization/office that implements a daemon thatâ(TM)s going to handle it for you.

Re:The procedure's more than *that*! (1)

kuleiana (629890) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858571)

OK, obviously /. has a problem with UTF8, which my browser's inserting by default. sorry

How to dispose of SECRET media (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27858555)

First, everything that is SECRET must be serialized and fully accounted for at all times. Paperwork must be done when it is decommissioned.

It must be physically destroyed. If it's a CD, then it must be broken or otherwise scratched to the point where reading any data off it becomes not only unlikely, but impossible. Fire is good.

Hard drives (I had one fail on my in Iraq) must be double packaged, clearly labeled SECRET, and escorted by authorized personnel the entire way to somewhere a lot higher than the infantry battalion I am in to get properly destroyed.

Since it's got Lockheed Martin employee information on it, it's a Lockheed Martin hard drive, and their accountability is probably not as demanding as the Marine Corps...probably a guy in the tech department wanting to make some extra money.

Say what? (3, Funny)

minsk (805035) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858581)

wiping the whole disk and then writing 1010 all over it.

Did exactly that. Removed it from a computer. Wiped all over the disk. Then took a marker and wrote all over it. For additional security, wiped it *again* to remove the marker. And you nuts are still claiming there's secrets on it...

</fiction>

A+++++ Vendor! (5, Funny)

xonar (1069832) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858583)

A++++++++++++ service! Quick shipping, and free military secrets included! Would buy from again.

Wiping the whole disk by writing 1010 (2, Funny)

Gathers (78832) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858609)

The problem with writing 1010 all over the disk is that it only covers an extremely tiny fraction of the disk. Most modern drives are much larger than 4 bits.

It is also highly inefficient since the OS would always have to read a whole sector (typically 512 bytes) and modify it in memory before writing it back again to avoid changing any bits outside of those 4 that are to be wiped!

So, why not just sell it on eBay and hope the buyer wipes the disk before using it?

Close Enough For Government Work... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27858631)

Rings true once again. Good thing we're on track to making EVERY aspect of our lives "Government Work".

Does the IRS do it better or worse? (2, Informative)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858637)

I work for the IRS and we supposedly use the DOD standard. Our wiping software actually has a "/DOD" switch. However, unlike the standard quoted in another post, our software just reinitializes the MBR and then does 7 random overwrites. Is that better or worse than writing patterns? I dunno.

I do know, however, that we never let a drive out of our inventory without a wipe. If the drive has failed completely, we have a big magnetic blanker we use. (Local option - in my office, we then take those drives apart, abuse the platters, and one of our techs makes sculptures from them. Neat stuff.)

As an aside, we never RMA drives, either. If a drive in our possession fails, we call for a warranty replacement and send back in the return box a signed statement swearing that we destroyed the old drive. If a laptop has a failure that requires a contractor tech to replace parts, we make them come on-site then have someone stand over them the whole time to make sure they don't try to actually read anything off the drive.

I would expect the military to do at least as well. Am I wrong?

SInce When (2, Interesting)

cfkboyz (1129423) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858643)

I just got out of the Military and was in there for 6 years. Not one time did we ever wipe a hard drive, not because we did not care nor to lazy. We never sold the hard drives or gave them away. We either reused the drive or we smashed it and then recycled it. The Army is so paranoid that we even had to take RAM out of old computers that processed classified information just because it MIGHT have information left...

Obligatory oxymoron (-1, Redundant)

oDDmON oUT (231200) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858677)

Military.Intelligence.

Obligatory Down-mod (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27858821)

-1, Dumbass

Perhaps we should find new ways to motivate them (2, Insightful)

AnalPerfume (1356177) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858759)

Every time a piece of hardware which wasn't properly cleaned to the recommended levels, the individual responsible for letting it leave the premises should be held accountable....personally. How about sharing state secrets with the enemy? You can't know who it was destined for so there's every possibility it will go overseas. To my knowledge this carries a harsh sentence, but we can allow a prison sentence if they co-operate with the authorities and ensure the command level personnel are also charged.

My guess is that most of this stuff happens through employee laziness, and contractor unaccountability. If you have lobbyists lairing in government to ensure that you keep the contracts no matter what and are able to hide anything under the "national security" red herring then why bother enforcing rules like wiping stuff properly? The idea of being held PERSONALLY responsible, with potential jail time will make people stop and think, specially if the command level have no loophole to blame their underlings for anything the press find out about.

Contractor drive, not military (1)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858797)

For all anyone knows it could have been stolen.

THAAD not used in Iraq (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27858811)

I think the blurb is incorrect. THAAD was not used in Iraq, in fact its not even a deployed system at this point.

wipe? destroy! (1)

anonieuweling (536832) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858871)

Why wipe a disk?
Media is cheap nowadays. Just destroy the disk.

Mandatory (1)

lufo (949075) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858893)

Wiping hard drives is no rocket science. It's HARDER than rocket science, indeed.

Great Quote (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858965)

One of the researchers, Professor Andrew Blyth said: "It's not rocket science..."

Induction Cooker (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 5 years ago | (#27858975)

Has anyone here ever used an induction cooker [wikipedia.org] to wipe/destroy a hard drive?
It seems that should be effective and entertaining.

Disks full of porn "sold to military" (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#27859045)

[probably to post [today.com] tomorrow]

Gigabytes and gigabytes of pornography and highly sensitive login details for gentleman's art sites were bought by a US military missile air defence base second-hand on eBay.

The artistic pamphlets were found on a hard disk for the SPLORT (Super-Powered Less Obviously Retronymed Thing) ground to air missile defence system, used to shoot down Scum missiles in Iraq.

Dr Andy Jones, a researcher at the base, said "This is the fourth time we have carried out this research and it is clear that records left on hard disks are the twenty-first century equivalent of random pornographic magazines found in bushes and parks by masturbation-crazed eleven year old boys. PHWOAR, LOOK AT THE TITS ON THAT ONE! I'm sorry, I'm just reviewing a birdwatching site. Fabulous display of Cyanistes caeruleus.

"Of significant concern is the number of large organisations that are still not disposing of confidential information in a secure manner. Thank fuck."

The disk also contained login details, credit card numbers and 18 USC 2257 information on ... "prospective military contractors," said Dr Jones. "Really. Prospective contractors. We're getting in touch right away."

These assertions clearly false (1)

Timwit (597019) | more than 5 years ago | (#27859053)

A hard drive contained records from human resources *and* classified THAAD information? No way that's true. Classified information would be on its own network, and there would never be any reason to copy it to HR. Even if a contractor neglected to destroy or wipe a disk, only one type of information would be found on it, and not both.

This doesn't make sense... (2, Informative)

LoneAdmin (1549639) | more than 5 years ago | (#27859057)

I worked for a government contractor at Tinker AFB in Oklahoma back in 2005-2006. I was on a contract doing server/desktop support for a wing on the base. Whenever we had a failed drive in a desktop, laptop or server there were certain protocols that we had to follow to make sure the data was compromised. We had to remove the drive and then take it apart completely. Once it was dismantled we had to scratch the platters to make sure they couldn't be reassembled in a different drive. I was also in on a server upgrade and they were going to sell the old server in a surplus auction. We were told to run a wipe of the drives and then REMOVE THEM because DOD regulations stated that the drives couldn't be sold at all. Then we had to destroy the drives in the same way I described above. Obviously this situation is someone not doing their job or just taking drives to make money.
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