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On-Call-IT Assists In Government Data Destruction

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the outside-their-pay-grade dept.

Government 163

covaro writes "Seems those on-site computer services may be helping to cover up government dirty deeds these days. The Wall Street Journal reports: 'Investigators learned that [Office of Special Counsel head Scott Bloch, who has been under investigation since 2005] erased all the files on his office personal computer late last year. They are now trying to determine whether the deletions were improper or part of a cover-up, lawyers close to the case said ... Bypassing his agency's computer technicians, Mr. Bloch phoned for Geeks on Call, the mobile PC-help service ... Bloch had his computer's hard disk completely cleansed using a "seven-level" wipe: a thorough scrubbing that conforms to Defense Department data-security standards. The process makes it nearly impossible for forensics experts to restore the data later.'"

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Why not just by a new hard disc (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21543369)

Surely if you are that worried you just have the tech install a new (and probably bigger and faster) hard disc? Would be quicker and cheaper.

Re:Why not just by a new hard disc (2, Interesting)

pipatron (966506) | more than 6 years ago | (#21543405)

And what to do with the old one? Throw away and let some scavenger hunter find the data? Wiping a drive like this sounds like the easiest way to get rid of it, compared to the alternatives.

Re:Why not just by a new hard disc (2, Informative)

pla (258480) | more than 6 years ago | (#21543455)

And what to do with the old one? Throw away and let some scavenger hunter find the data?

Sledge hammer applied repeatedly.

Industrial shredder.

Thermite.

Persistant application of a grinding wheel.

Personally tossing in a large crucible of molten steel.

Fuming sulfuric acid.

We may not all have the resources to do all of the above, but I'd bet most of us can find a way to physically reduce a HDD to very very small chunks, if not completely dissolving/melting it at a molecular level.

Re:Why not just by a new hard disc (5, Informative)

cab15625 (710956) | more than 6 years ago | (#21543575)

Or a screw-driver followed by steel wool on the platters.

BTW, nitric acid would likely be more effective than sulphuric. And a mix of nitric and hydrochloric (commonly known as aqua regia) will probably do an even better job. The nitric acts as an oxidizing agent while the hydrochloric can help complex some of the resulting metal ions making the mixture more effective. Sulphuric would probably just get rid of some of the organic coatings in the time that it would take the aqua regia to chew through all the metals.

COVERUP - My Rejected Submission (2, Interesting)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 6 years ago | (#21545017)

A U.S. official overseeing a probe of former Bush aide Karl Rove yesterday refused to give federal investigators copies of "personal files" he deleted from his office computer [theregister.co.uk] , after it was discovered he hired a private computer-help company to erase all the hard drives belonging to him and two deputies. Special Counsel Scott J. Bloch [osc.gov] hired a firm to perform a DoD-wipe, guaranteeing the files could never be restored. Bloch said he suspected his computer was infected by a virus - an unorthodox remedy. The receipt for the work performed makes no mention of a virus. Bloch refuses to turn over [washingtonpost.com] other files saved online and claims no documents relevant to any investigation have been purged. "We don't do a seven-level wipe for a virus," said a manager of Geeks on Call [rawstory.com] - the firm that was hired.

Re:Why not just by a new hard disc (1)

alex4u2nv (869827) | more than 6 years ago | (#21543653)

2 girls 1 cup^W HDD

Re:Why not just by a new hard disc (2, Informative)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 6 years ago | (#21543695)

I tried destroying an old 1.2GB hdd with about 700MB of bad clusters using a sledgehammer. It was actually surprisingly robust under the blows from the hammer.

Just in case you are wondering what I was trying to hide, it was bank account details from about ten years ago.

Re:Why not just by a new hard disc (1)

NinjaTariq (1034260) | more than 6 years ago | (#21543901)

I have done a similar thing, they are surprisingly resilient. However in the battle between hammer and harddrive, the stamina of the hammer eventually wins out.

My reasons were the hard drive for some reason made my PC unstable, so I took a few months frustrations out on it. After that day my PC worked fine.

Re:Why not just by a new hard disc (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 6 years ago | (#21544565)

I tried that once, too, and won't try it again. Just boring a few holes through it with a drill press is a lot easier. While it's perhaps not quite as destructive as actually scrubbing the platters or shredding them, it does enough for most purposes. It also makes the drive obviously un-usable, which I figure means it's more likely to stay in the trash than one that looks functional.

For the most fun, though, nothing beats shooting them. (I'm a fan of 5.56mm at about 100 yards, since it keeps you well away from any flying debris.)

Re:Why not just by a new hard disc (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 6 years ago | (#21543567)

>And what to do with the old one?

Take it to a service and have it shredded. In fact, since a lot of forensic data recovery is done with scratch files, etc., that may be stored separately, take the whole computer to a service and have it shredded. (Yes, at least here in DC, there are such services.)

Since this wasn't his computer, but his employeers' computer, I expect that he may find that his easure wasn't as effective as he would of liked, and that he may now be in a lot of trouble.

Re:Why not just by a new hard disc (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21543587)

? Throwing your old hard disc on the fire is highly effective and free regardless of your level of technical knowledge and does not require paying someone to repeatable wipe your old one or for you to trust they are competent enough to have done it correctly.

Re:Why not just by a new hard disc (2, Informative)

Torvaun (1040898) | more than 6 years ago | (#21544273)

There are plenty of places out there that do data recovery, and some of them can retrieve quite a lot of data from hard drives that have been through house fires and the like. If your fire doesn't leave the platters in a molten pool of metal, it's not good enough.

I'm pretty sure you can do it... (1)

$pace6host (865145) | more than 6 years ago | (#21544659)

I haven't opened any drive more recent than a 200MB (i.e. >10 yrs old), but all I needed to do that was a torx driver. I've never encountered one built to resist intentional opening (unless you count those stickers!) The platters are a non-magnetic material (aluminum in my experience, though I hear glass is used, too) coated with a thin layer of ferromagnetic material. I'm pretty sure that a few minutes with an orbital sander on this layer would make it "effectively unrecoverable" by even the best data recovery house. It's hard to say what the pattern of magnetic orientations might have been once they're scattered in a completely random pile of dust. You give me 30 minutes, I'll make sure your data can't be read. And, I can get some windchimes [evilmadscientist.com] and rare earth magnets [dansdata.com] at the same time! Bonus!

Re:Why not just by a new hard disc (1)

$pace6host (865145) | more than 6 years ago | (#21544687)

Sorry, now that I reread your comment, you weren't saying that one couldn't destroy it, only that tossing it on a fire wouldn't be good enough. Now why didn't that sink in the first time? I think someone's been sanding my brain platters.

Re:Why not just by a new hard disc (1)

Nullav (1053766) | more than 6 years ago | (#21543629)

What, hard drives are indestructible? Goodbye, bricks!

Re:Why not just by a new hard disc (1)

dcollins (135727) | more than 6 years ago | (#21544629)

Most people don't know what a hard disk is, what one looks like, how to get it out of their case, or what their options are. They call the tech guy and say "trash my data so no one can get it back". And the tech guy does that literally.

Re:Why not just by a new hard disc (1)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21545653)

hey, it's only *nearly* impossible, that means it is certainly possible.

some information SHOULD be destroyed (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21543371)

A few years ago, while browsing around the library downtown, I
had to take a piss. As I entered the john a big beautiful all-American
football hero type, about twenty-five, came out of one of the booths.
I stood at the urinal looking at him out of the corner of my eye as he
washed his hands. He didn't once look at me. He was "straight" and
married - and in any case I was sure I wouldn't have a chance with
him.

As soon as he left I darted into the booth he'd vacated,
hoping there might be a lingering smell of shit and even a seat still
warm from his sturdy young ass. I found not only the smell but the
shit itself. He'd forgotten to flush. And what a treasure he had left
behind. Three or four beautiful specimens floated in the bowl. It
apparently had been a fairly dry, constipated shit, for all were fat,
stiff, and ruggedly textured. The real prize was a great feast of turd
- a nine inch gastrointestinal triumph as thick as a man's wrist.

I knelt before the bowl, inhaling the rich brown fragrance and
wondered if I should obey the impulse building up inside me. I'd
always been a heavy rimmer and had lapped up more than one little
clump of shit, but that had been just an inevitable part of eating ass
and not an end in itself. Of course I'd had jerk-off fantasies of
devouring great loads of it (what rimmer hasn't), but I had never done
it. Now, here I was, confronted with the most beautiful five-pound
turd I'd ever feasted my eyes on, a sausage fit to star in any fantasy
and one I knew to have been hatched from the asshole of the world's
handsomest young stud.

Why not? I plucked it from the bowl, holding it with both
hands to keep it from breaking. I lifted it to my nose. It smelled
like rich, ripe limburger (horrid, but thrilling), yet had the
consistency of cheddar. What is cheese anyway but milk turning to shit
without the benefit of a digestive tract?

I gave it a lick and found that it tasted better then it
smelled. I've found since then that shit nearly almost does.

I hesitated no longer. I shoved the fucking thing as far into
my mouth as I could get it and sucked on it like a big brown cock,
beating my meat like a madman. I wanted to completely engulf it and
bit off a large chunk, flooding my mouth with the intense, bittersweet
flavor. To my delight I found that while the water in the bowl had
chilled the outside of the turd, it was still warm inside. As I chewed
I discovered that it was filled with hard little bits of something I
soon identified as peanuts. He hadn't chewed them carefully and they'd
passed through his body virtually unchanged. I ate it greedily,
sending lump after peanutty lump sliding scratchily down my throat. My
only regret was the donor of this feast wasn't there to wash it down
with his piss.

I soon reached a terrific climax. I caught my cum in the
cupped palm of my hand and drank it down. Believe me, there is no more
delightful combination of flavors than the hot sweetness of cum with
the rich bitterness of shit.

Afterwards I was sorry that I hadn't made it last longer. But
then I realized that I still had a lot of fun in store for me. There
was still a clutch of virile turds left in the bowl. I tenderly fished
them out, rolled them into my handkerchief, and stashed them in my
briefcase. In the week to come I found all kinds of ways to eat the
shit without bolting it right down. Once eaten it's gone forever
unless you want to filch it third hand out of your own asshole. Not an
unreasonable recourse in moments of desperation or simple boredom.

I stored the turds in the refrigerator when I was not using
them but within a week they were all gone. The last one I held in my
mouth without chewing, letting it slowly dissolve. I had liquid shit
trickling down my throat for nearly four hours. I must have had six
orgasms in the process.

I often think of that lovely young guy dropping solid gold out
of his sweet, pink asshole every day, never knowing what joy it could,
and at least once did, bring to a grateful shiteater.

Hire someone??? (1)

pla (258480) | more than 6 years ago | (#21543411)

Bloch had his computer's hard disk completely cleansed using a "seven-level" wipe: a thorough scrubbing that conforms to Defense Department data-security standards.

You have to wonder - For those who can't do such things themselves, wouldn't it cost less to just buy a new HDD, and take a sledgehammer (or thermite, where readily available) to the old one?

Sure, for most Slashdotters who can do their own "seven level wipe" (or whatever number the current rumors claim works infallably), saving a few hundred bucks for "good enough" makes sense. But if you plan to spend the money either on a drive or an "expert", why not just physically trash the drive?

Re:Hire someone??? (2, Informative)

mh1997 (1065630) | more than 6 years ago | (#21543465)

You have to wonder - For those who can't do such things themselves, wouldn't it cost less to just buy a new HDD, and take a sledgehammer (or thermite, where readily available) to the old one?
My DoD owned computer at work has the serial numbers recorded for all hardware installed inside the case.

Replace the HDD and somebody somewhere would know and think I stole the disk or data, wipe it and I just say I was removing porn. Porn would get me fired, stealing the HDD or data would get me fired and thrown in jail.

Two words... (1)

Aphrika (756248) | more than 6 years ago | (#21543489)

...plausible deniability...

Taking a hammer (or thermite) to a hard drive is considerably more suspicious than saying you "wiped your drive because you thought you had a virus". In todays security-conscious environment, an overzealous old guy wiping his drive in such a manner can easily be spun into something done with a good conscience... or if you're feeling brave, stupidity...

How about Hanlon's Razor; "never attribute to malice, what can be attributed to stupidity".

And that's your perfect answer "Oops I'm sorry, I wanted to make sure my virus had gone. I didn't realise it would get rid of evidence as well..." - this guy's smart, but probably not smart enough...

Re:Two words... (4, Insightful)

ScrappyLaptop (733753) | more than 6 years ago | (#21543977)

but...he also had them wipe the drives of several underling's laptops as well...and if he really had a virus, why not just call his own IT (the one's that said, "we don't do a level-7 for viruses we just reimage")...?

Thirty years ago, there was a huge uproar about some guy erasing a few minutes of tape. Nowadays, politicians get away with destroying evidence while under investigation...and the media doesn't even raise a stink. He who controls the media, indeed.

Re:Two words... (1)

ncalsmitty1369 (880093) | more than 6 years ago | (#21545819)

This kind of stuff is just crazy... Every time I tell a story like this to one of my friends they can't believe it. But stories like this keep happening.

What ever came of the White House email fiasco? Buried under the rug, forgotten in time?

Re:Hire someone??? (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 6 years ago | (#21543635)

I'd just dban the drive, then turn in the computer with the complaint it no workee. New comp shows up, old hd is destroyed, computer goes away to govliquidation.com on a pallet.

Re:Hire someone??? (1)

NoMoreFood (783406) | more than 6 years ago | (#21543893)

I can't say this with certainly, but with the type of advanced hardware they use to extract data, I imagine you could still extract information from a bent or cracked platter. And if they were 'monitoring' the fellow, that's something they probably would have picked out of the trash.

Re:Hire someone??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21544049)

I think youre seriously overestimating the average users ability to remove four screws, lift the lid & point at the hard drive.

In my experience only 1 in 10 average users have this ability.

Re:Hire someone??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21545149)

Yes, you're so incredibly smart and wonderful and intelligent and if only people would see that and not avoid you when you come to talk about your latest WoW exploits or the exciting new Magic cards you got then you wouldn't be such a bitter useless pile of shit, right?

Re:Hire someone??? (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 6 years ago | (#21544173)

Seriously. And it's not like it's that hard, either. It's not seven-level wipe (actually three level, which from my research suggests nobody could undo even examining every bit in an electron microscope), but all you have to do on a Windows system is run cipher /w C:\ [microsoft.com] after deleting any files you don't want someone to find.

1. You don't end up with a highly suspicious wipe and reinstall.
2. You don't have to download extra, suspicious software to do the wipe for you as cipher.exe is included with Win2K and WinXP.

Linux, of course, has the shred command anyway. But then, I suppose he's not a geek. It was a pretty stupid move to hire someone like that though without some sort of NDA.

Re:Hire someone??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21545225)

2. You don't have to download extra, suspicious software to do the wipe for you as cipher.exe is included with Win2K and WinXP.

The MS KB article you linked states that it applies to XP and 2003; 2000 is not listed.

- T

He's done nothing wrong (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21543423)

This is a Rove smear, he is investigating Rove, and Rove always tries to smear anyone who tries to uncover his dirty lies.

Sounds like (1)

Provocateur (133110) | more than 6 years ago | (#21543425)

a resounding recommendation for Geeks on Call.

Unless they happen to be ex-DoD IT employees, trying to make ends meet.

Re:Sounds like (2, Interesting)

rudeboy1 (516023) | more than 6 years ago | (#21543511)

Meh. I'm not terribly impressed. I'm guessing all the guy did was show up, ran a copy of DBan [sourceforge.net] charged him $300 (because it's a government job), then left. Not that he did anything wrong. At least he knew the difference between formatting a drive and securely wiping it.

another day in paradise? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21543429)

we watched this a.m. as the sun rose to a cloudless pure blue sky. within a couple of minutes, we saw the planes come by, at very high altitude, & spray their 'cargo' across the path of the sun. it is 12 degrees here. to what end such insidious deeds we wonder?

no matter, the lights are coming up all over now. see you there?

we're intending (do not underestimate the power of intention) for the corepirate nazi execrable to give up/fail even further, in attempting to control the 'weather'.

http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&q=video+cloud+spraying [google.com]

the creators will prevail. as it has always been.

corepirate nazi execrable costs outweigh benefits
(Score:-)mynuts won, the king is a fink)
by ourselves on everyday 24/7

as there are no benefits, just more&more death/debt & disruption.

fortunately there's an 'army' of angels, coming yOUR way

do not be afraid/dismayed, it is the way it was meant to be.

the little ones/innocents must/will be protected.

after the big flash, ALL of yOUR imaginary 'borders' may blur a bit?

for each of the creators' innocents harmed (in any way), there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/us, as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile, will not be available after the big flash occurs.

all is not lost/forgotten/forgiven.

no need to fret (unless you're associated/joined at the hype with, unprecedented evile), it's all just a part of the creators' wwwildly popular, newclear powered, planet/population rescue initiative/mandate.

or, is it (literally) ground hog (as in dead meat) day, again? many of US are obviously not aware of how we appear (which is whoreabull) from the other side of the 'lens', or even from across the oceans.

vote with (what's left in) yOUR wallet. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi glowbull warmongering execrable.

we still haven't read (here) about the 2/3'rds of you kids who are investigating/pursuing a spiritual/conscience/concious re-awakening, in amongst the 'stuff that matters'? another big surprise?

some of US should consider ourselves very fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate.

it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc....

as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis.

concern about the course of events that will occur should the life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order.

'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

Exactly as I suspected (1, Insightful)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 6 years ago | (#21543433)

"The process makes it nearly impossible for forensics experts to restore the data later."

Notice the wording: _nearly_ impossible. But not impossible, huh?

Lessoned learned: don't trust a seven-pass DOD 5220.22-M. Use a 35 pass ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gutmann_method [wikipedia.org] ) because you never know who wants your private collection of pr0n.

Re:Exactly as I suspected (2, Informative)

bhima (46039) | more than 6 years ago | (#21543699)

Not that I have a better idea but I was under the impression that this method was obsolete.
Also I wonder if this does not hasten the death of the drives it is used on.

Re:Exactly as I suspected (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21544583)

Also I wonder if this does not hasten the death of the drives it is used on.
Who cares? If you really want rid of the data, having the drive die soon after just gives you an excuse to replace the drive completely (and hopefully physically destroy the original drive).

Re:Exactly as I suspected (2, Informative)

bogie (31020) | more than 6 years ago | (#21544741)

Gutmann method was only meant for drives from like 20 years ago. I believe he later stated that a few wipes of random data were about the best you could do.

Re:Exactly as I suspected (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 6 years ago | (#21544803)


Notice the wording: _nearly_ impossible. But not impossible, huh?

I'm not sure if you're joking or not, but in case you aren't, do you really trust the some dumb WSJ journalist over what HD experts have been saying for years? What likely happened is said dumb WSJ journalist asked the local tech guy about wipes, he said "yah, if you do it right it can't be recovered..", so that became "nearly impossible".

HD technology isn't secret. There may be some techniques the HD makers don't like to share, but the technology itself is well known, and well understood. If it were possible to recover data from a complete wipe, we'd know about it.

Re:Exactly as I suspected (2, Interesting)

a_nonamiss (743253) | more than 6 years ago | (#21545177)

Really, a single wipe with random data would *almost* do it. It would render the system unrecoverable, but my guess as to why the DOD requires 3 wipes is that if you're talking about nuclear launch codes, you'd only need to recover a few bytes of information to get very, very valuable data. If you knew exactly where to look, and knew exactly what you were looking for, it's conceivable that you could re-create the missing data based on residual magnetic signatures and complex mathematical analysis of the exact levels of magnetic field for each bit. There are many values between "on" and "off". It wouldn't be easy, but the KGB had a lot of resources dedicated to such follies.

I couldn't imagine even a determined individual could recover anything from a drive that's been wiped twice, but the DOD always tends to overdo everything, so thrice is the magic number. Anything more is just wearing out your magnetic media.

Re:Exactly as I suspected (1)

Ortega-Starfire (930563) | more than 6 years ago | (#21545119)


From your own article posted:

Gutmann himself has responded to some of these criticisms and also criticized how his algorithm has been abused in an epilogue to his original paper, in which he states:

" In the time since this paper was published, some people have treated the 35-pass overwrite technique described in it more as a kind of voodoo incantation to banish evil spirits than the result of a technical analysis of drive encoding techniques. As a result, they advocate applying the voodoo to PRML and EPRML drives even though it will have no more effect than a simple scrubbing with random data. In fact performing the full 35-pass overwrite is pointless for any drive since it targets a blend of scenarios involving all types of (normally-used) encoding technology, which covers everything back to 30+-year-old MFM methods (if you don't understand that statement, re-read the paper). If you're using a drive which uses encoding technology X, you only need to perform the passes specific to X, and you never need to perform all 35 passes. For any modern PRML/EPRML drive, a few passes of random scrubbing is the best you can do. As the paper says, "A good scrubbing with random data will do about as well as can be expected". This was true in 1996, and is still true now. "

So that's how the WH lost 50,000 emails! (2, Insightful)

romanval (556418) | more than 6 years ago | (#21543451)

They just called a geek squad to cover their tracks!

It's strange how there's no outrage over these kinds of things. The need for transparent government is seriously overlooked.

Re:So that's how the WH lost 50,000 emails! (1)

argiedot (1035754) | more than 6 years ago | (#21543537)

Considering the other Slashdot article talking about how those techs copy whatever they find interesting, this may not be the smartest thing for a DoD man to do. Unless, of course, he was actually supervising the whole thing.

Re:So that's how the WH lost 50,000 emails! (2, Insightful)

Ougarou (976289) | more than 6 years ago | (#21543551)

Appart from that, I can't see why the IT department doesn't make backup copies, for when people do stupid things like this. Isn't there a weekly image they pull that can be restored?

Surely after all these years, you would expect governments to have some kind of backup system or plan. They should start using thin-clients, NFS (or any better thing) and do full backups weekly.

Re:So that's how the WH lost 50,000 emails! (1)

spikedvodka (188722) | more than 6 years ago | (#21543773)

Weekly backups? Damn, I'm wasting tapes then. Small public school and we make nightly backups of *EVERYTHING*
our rotation goes like this:
2 sets of Monday - Thursday tapes, that rotate.
5 sets of Friday tapes, Friday 1 is always the first Friday of the month, Friday 2, the second, etc.

That we we always have 2 weeks worth of full back-ups, 1 months worth of weekly backups, and the Friday 5 tape only gets used once a quarter. On top of that student records and financial data is all backed up separately as well, and we keep the student data effectively forever (as required by law - until the confirmed death of the student). and the financial data for the required length of time as well.

Re:So that's how the WH lost 50,000 emails! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21544819)

Two comments:

1. - You mean there really *IS* a permanent record!?

2. - Clever about the 5th friday thing. (Or maybe I have been living in a cave.) I hadn't thought of that as an automagical method to keep a quarterly backup in the rotation. Thanks.

Re:So that's how the WH lost 50,000 emails! (1)

ijakings (982830) | more than 6 years ago | (#21545785)

I really shouldnt feed the AC, but of course theres a permanent record. It just doesn't have the scope or effect that you always thought it did. As far as I know, at least where I am, the school has a permenant record about your time there, then the next school has a record of your time there. They do communicate between each other on certain things, ie Name, DOB, address etc but afaik not on the "bad" things you did whilst you were there.

Then even after you leave school its not automagically given to employers or universitys. Its just a scare tactic.

So who will stand up for his Rights? (1)

capnkr (1153623) | more than 6 years ago | (#21543461)

Assuming, of course, (like most /.ers will), that this guy is automatically completely Guilty (well, the magical word "Rove" was invoked, so he must be, by association...), then I wonder who among those screaming for his head will accept that if he *is* guilty, he has the Right not incriminate himself.

Then again, the Inquisitors won't need the data, they can just torture whatever information they need out of him, in order to help prove that the current Administration is devil-spawn, while the promises of those who oppose it will be fulfilled, and All Will Be Made Right In The World, if only you elect them instead this next time.

No, this isn't a Troll. Think about it, before reacting, for once.

(Cluebat: There ain't no difference between the parties up there - their sole aim is to get and keep power, and the way they do that is by telling a different set of lies about what they'll do in order to get elected. Citation: See "Current Congress".)

Time for a third party. Time for a political Monkeywrench Gang.

Chances of that happening: Slim, to None.

Forecast: Same political shit, different day.

Sigh.

Re:So who will stand up for his Rights? (1)

StrawberryFrog (67065) | more than 6 years ago | (#21543577)

Assuming that this guy is automatically completely Guilty (well, the magical word "Rove" was invoked, so he must be

Um, he's "The head of the federal agency investigating Karl Rove's White House political operation" (first line of TFA).

So the message is: In Bush's America, if you investigate the administration, and someone will investigate YOU.

Re:So who will stand up for his Rights? (3, Interesting)

capnkr (1153623) | more than 6 years ago | (#21543727)

From OP: "Think about it, before reacting, for once."

From parent: "In Bush's America..."

So your kneejerk reaction is to criticize the current administration. While completely ignoring the fact that a Clinton Administration is completely capable of doing the exact same BS, for the exact same reasons. In fact, they have, and will - it is well known that the one thing you *don't* want to do is to cross The Hillary, not if you want to keep your sack intact. We saw what happens to folks back when Bill was Prez. Same shit, different Party.

Strawberry, neither of them gives a shit about you and your concerns, not really. They just want you to keep falling for the same bi-partisan media mania bullshit, so that they can both keep getting elected. They love their power at your expense, and if you perpetuate the two party system (by voting for candidates from either party, or by propagating either partys political message of scorn for the other side, like you did in the above post), it will never get any better for you as an individual Citizen. Your Rights, your Powers as a Citizen of the USA, your spending power over the money *you* make will all be in continual decline as long as you are willing to accept the false message of dichotomy that continually comes down from the halls of power, via the channels of information pressed on you by the mass-media kingmakers.

My hopes for my fellow Americans in general: Rid yourself of affiliation with Democrats and Republicans, in thought, word, and deed. Become independent and thoughtful. Don't automatically accept propaganda and political prejudice as Truth. See things for what they are. Demand change, and be willing to work for it. Call to account those folks who are in power up there in DC, and make them do what they say, or kick them out.

They are not there to play politics for their party, they are our elected employees, and should be working for *us*.

Stepping up to the plate and becoming The Boss (as we should) won't be easy, and demands that we open our eyes to the reality of the situation we are in right now.

Re:So who will stand up for his Rights? (1)

StrawberryFrog (67065) | more than 6 years ago | (#21543797)

I take your point, but I simply don't believe that previous administrations were "just as bad". They weren't; the trend has been downward for a while.

Strawberry, neither of them gives a shit about you and your concerns, not really

I'd be surprised if they did really, since I live and vote in England. I am not now, never have been, and have no intention of becoming a citizen of the USA.

Re:So who will stand up for his Rights? (2, Interesting)

capnkr (1153623) | more than 6 years ago | (#21543913)

From parent: "I take your point, but I simply don't believe that previous administrations were "just as bad". They weren't; the trend has been downward for a while."

Not so, for what it's worth, despite (or more probably, *because of*) what you might see/hear "reported".

I know some insiders, including a good friend in the Secret Service, and I've heard the stories first-hand. Much of the truth about politicians in general, and in this case, the Clintons in particular, *never* gets close to being reported truthfully. The ties between politicians and media, the "favors" swapped back and forth, keep the Truth about the downright nastiness of those folks out of the public eye.

From historical readings, I think it has always been this way, sadly.

I find it interesting that you have such strong political viewpoints about American candidates, being at the remove that you are. I don't have the time in my life to study objectively the political affairs of another nation and its politicians in order to form strong opinions about it/them, and I damned sure don't believe what I read about them in the press, because it is just too obvious that these media companies have an agenda for my thoughts...

Re:So who will stand up for his Rights? (2, Insightful)

Akaihiryuu (786040) | more than 6 years ago | (#21543869)

I can envision this hidden back room, where Republicans and Democrats cast off their pretentions of being "different" and laugh about all this. "Hey Bob, I've been in power for 8 years now, people are demanding change...so why don't you go out there and show how bad I am and how good you are. They'll vote for you, and we can still keep the same power structure where we both benefit!"

Re:So who will stand up for his Rights? (1)

capnkr (1153623) | more than 6 years ago | (#21543919)

Parent: "I can envision this hidden back room, where Republicans and Democrats cast off their pretentions of being "different" and laugh about all this."

They do, it's not hidden. They're called "Senate" and "Congress", but the snickering is reserved for times when the camera is not pointed at them.

Re:So who will stand up for his Rights? (2, Insightful)

moxley (895517) | more than 6 years ago | (#21544871)

Until people can get over the two party scam; (the false parameters perpetrated onto the people of this country and constantly reinforced by the media); until people can get over that, see it for what it is, and look past it - we can't even begin to think about truly reforming things.

Unfortunately I think it's too late to reform the elections system and false two part (opposite sides of the same coin) system. I hope it's not, but I am being realistic. Whether you believe it or not, the US government is being run as a criminal enterprise, and has been for quite some time. We have a group of insiders exploiting and manipulating everything; mainly via intelligence services - disregarding the rule of law; running international drug trafficking rings from production to wholesale for street sale (again, this is a fact, Iran Contra stumbled on to one of these oeprations and the agency's own documents prove this) which help fund all sorts of unamerican things.

This group of people is involved in so many things and is behind the descent into fascism in America. From what I can tell, here is what the future looks like in America:

You're going to see puches for laws (and tons of media coverage) about two things: One, how dangerous the internet is and how it is a tool for both recruiting terrorists and carrying out research and attacks; also that is is being used to "radicalize" american youth. This media and legislative stuff has already started. The internet provides too much information from too many uncontrolled sources and provides too great of a potential for oganization for the powers that be to allow it to continue uncontrolled.

You're going to see media coverage about American citizens being terrorists; especially people who look like good ol American kids. Likely trials of these people being publicized. The collapse of the dollar.

There will likely be another terrorist attack in the next 10 months. It will be (or at least will seem to be) a massive nuclear or biological/checmical attack, probably in multiple cities, definitely in DC. My guess is that it will be blamed on normal looking Americans...Martial law will be declared..The constitution will be suspended which cannot be reviewed by congress for at least 6 mo (yes, this is law, which has been made stronger by the current administration, and our fearless leader who has given himself sole authority to declare a "national emergency event" and to "ensure continuing constitutional government," look it up) Private defense contractors like Blackwater will be on the streets, people will be rounded up. The COG plan will kicxk in, FEMA will be in charge.

If you think this is exagerating, this is a great primer on why we aer in such a precarious position, (without even getting into any of the documentation, etc):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjALf12PAWc [youtube.com] (The blueprint for crushing democracy, the 10 things which have happened in the US which indicate that we are fucked).

I highly recommend these articles (or anything by Catherine Austin Fits): http://solari.com/learn/articles_risk.htm [solari.com]

Also, the SPP (or North American Union) will be brought in after the collapse of the dollar or a massive attack.

I know this is dark and depressing stuff and that some people just refuse to even consider it being true. Unfortunately it is all laid out; the legal framework, the political blueprint for what is happening, and plenty of people with inside knowledge of some of this stuff are talking.

So my point really is that if you are comparing the corruption of the Bush administration to that of the Clinton administration you are wasting time and energy. They are both corrupt, they are both working toward the same end, basically. Yes, times were better (especially superficially) when Clinton was president, but overall the sickness in our system had already started long before either of them.

Re:So who will stand up for his Rights? (1)

zz5555 (998945) | more than 6 years ago | (#21544619)

Hmmm, he has the right to not incriminate himself, but he doesn't have the right to destroy evidence. IANAL, but it seems to me that the evidence that might have been on the computer does not constitute incriminating himself. If that were true, then if I were to kill someone and got their blood on my clothes, I would have a constitutional right to destroy my clothes. I don't think that's the case.

I don't know whether this guy is guilty of anything or not (although he's pretty high up in politics so he's probably guilty of something), but from the write-up it seems clear that what he did was wrong. (And, no, I didn't RTFA.) I agree with your statement about needing a third party (and a fourth, and a fifth), though.

Steve

Other ways to retrieve it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21543529)

Surely, there are ways to retrieve the data.
For example, if the hard drive included porn, they could just subpoena the geek squad's own hard drives. I'm sure there'd be a copy. Of course, it depends if you really want to see certain White House personalities getting blow jobs from interns. Being Republicans, they'd be same-sex interns, of course. And they'd be interspersed with images saved from goat.se.
Or you could just torture the hard drive until it reveals all. Everyone knows torture works.

On a more serious note, can anyone clarify if retrieval using a SQUID ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SQUID [wikipedia.org] ) would be possible?

$1,149 to wipe a disk !!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21543545)

Save the people some money, hit it with a hammer (not one of the $500 dollars ones, a cheap one from Ace Hardware or something), through it in the Potomac, and get a new one.

No need to waste money... (1)

mwilliamson (672411) | more than 6 years ago | (#21543547)

Don't bother hiring IT services to wipe drives, just use DBAN [sourceforge.net] .

hope someone's still got the backups (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 6 years ago | (#21543589)

Wiping your disk is fine. But if you work in any sort of competant organisation (does that include government?) someone will be taking regular backups of your data.

All that remains is to find the tapes ...

improperly worded? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21543607)

"determine whether the deletions were improper or part of a cover-up, lawyers close to the case said"

Like plain old deceit as opposed to actual fraud?
Or an ordinary murder as opposed to a bloody execution?

I'm glad these lawyers have their standards straight.

business in destructable drives (3, Interesting)

cinnamon colbert (732724) | more than 6 years ago | (#21543631)

sounds like there is a business selling physically destructable drives - a drive witha an easy open case, and a method to physcially damage the platter

when i was a kid, an older geek guy told me, with admiration in his voice, about collins radio, and the manual that went with its equpiment for the military.
the 1st page of hte manual said something to the effect, if this equipment is about to be captured by the enemey, here is one thing you can do in 1 min to render the equiment unusable....

Re:business in destructable drives (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 6 years ago | (#21544313)

That's not just the radio. Military weapons systems generally include instructions for destruction. Even machineguns are expected to be destroyed in order to prevent them falling into enemy hands, and as such there is are "suggested methods" for destroying them, such as blowing out the barrel and breech using a pull-cord, disassembling them and scattering the working parts, etc.

In other words, those instructions weren't there because the radio is so special, but rather because the military is so paranoid about letting ANYTHING fall into enemy hands.

Re:business in destructable drives (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21544673)

all of my equipment was marked with a little red X. they expect you to put a pistol to the x and fire thus damaging the same components on every system thereby renduring systems useless even to cannibalism.

Re:business in destructable drives (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 6 years ago | (#21544743)


sounds like there is a business selling physically destructable drives - a drive witha an easy open case, and a method to physcially damage the platter

Why do that? Just buy a large amount of flash ram. It can be erased rather quickly, and isn't recoverable. If you want to be "extra paranoid", do the 7 pass thing.

If you have a HD, just download, boot, and run dban [sourceforge.net] on it. It's not all that difficult, even for a neophyte.

Re:business in destructable drives (1)

cinnamon colbert (732724) | more than 6 years ago | (#21544867)

i guess the question is how are you sure - like in bet a months salary sure ?
software methods always leave a doubt
shredding the platter seems sure

What do they mean difficult to recover (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21543669)

You're not going to get shit from any quality 7 level whipe. They'd be lucky to get anything reusable from far less whipes especially considering he did this a year ago and likely has written data to the drive since then further whiping anything left on there.

Well, in his defense employees should have the right to permanently remove personal data from their work stations such as emails, web surfing history, porn or whatever other private data a person might collect. Unfortunately the overbroad destruction of evidence or obstruction charges are not preventing any reasonable level of privacy. Most importantly is these changes are new and people weren't given any real warning that they were about to lose the right to clear their system of personal data.

Now, obviously this guy had more to hide than personal data.

and NO Geek Squad should have more than thought twice about assisting a public official KNOWN to be under investigation or at least scrutiny to do a 7 layer whipe. Unless they had no idea who he was they should have question why a public official needed a DOD level whipe on his laptop.
I wouldn't say they are at fault, but it's not a very responsible thing to do, assisting public officials in destroying data.

I have a solution. We don't really need that data as proof. Lets just waterboard him until he gives us a confession. PROBLEM SOLVED ! Hey... it's not tortue, the GOP says so.

 

Re:What do they mean difficult to recover (2, Insightful)

subterfuge (668314) | more than 6 years ago | (#21544343)

"Well, in his defense employees should have the right to permanently remove personal data from their work stations such as emails, web surfing history, porn or whatever other private data a person might collect...reasonable level of privacy."

There is no such thing as a reasonable level of privacy for the things you list [regardless of gov/corp status]. An employee has no right to use the employer's equipment/services for personal purposes, that includes "emails, web surfing history, porn or whatever other private data a person might collect" - it should not be on the PC unless it [the PC] is yours.

I field this issue on a regular basis [desktop admin weenie for a smallish health insurance company]. We have the full backing of management to immediately delete any unathorized apps/data ["...yes, I did remotely delete iTunes and all of the music files on this PC, please address your complaints to Corporate Data Security, the Ethics and Compliance department, HR and every manager in my food chain...would you like their cell phione numbers?.."]. Despite the assumption that everyone seems to have that you have privacy at your place of employment you actually have very little [restroom with no camera/mic...thats about it]. The PC,hard disk, network, innerweb connection, email systems, telephone and every bit of airspace on the property are paid for by the employer - you have rights to pretty much none of it as an employee.

He should have used a Mac (1)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 6 years ago | (#21543673)

Launch Disk Utility from /Applications/Utilities. If you want to erase your boot drive, you'll have to boot off an OS X installer CD then run Disk Utility from the installer.

Select your hard drive from the list on the left. Note that you can erase either a whole drive, or just a selected partition.

Click on the Erase tab, then on the Security Options button.

Click on the 7-Pass Erase radio button. On Tiger (10.4) it says this provides a "highly secure erasure" of the drive; on Leopard it names the MIL-STD document that the erasure conforms to.

Click the OK button, then the Erase button, then confirm that you really want to wipe your drive.

Wait a long time.

Coverup!

For the truly paranoid, there is also a 35-pass erase option.

Re:He should have used a Mac (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21543959)

Well, considering that Gutmann himself states that only morons would do all of the 35 passes (when the technique was new, and actually relevant), and that today "a few passes of random scrubbing is the best you can do", I'd say that doing a 7-pass overwrite is good enough.

Re:He should have used a Mac (1)

kanweg (771128) | more than 6 years ago | (#21544093)

Of course he didn't use a Mac. He was a bad guy, and in movies only the good guys use Macs.

It is easier than you describe, though. Just put your stuff in the trash and empty it. Then go to disk utility and ask it under the Erase tab to write all over the free space 7 times. No need to do format-like stuff.

Bert

So what would you do? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21543687)

You have a virus infection on a laptop which has an unknown history of security sensitive data being stored onto it. The previous or current owner can tell you just what data is important still.

You don't know just what the virus might have transmitted. Possibly this is not the first such case with unknown consequences.

So you just get rid of the virus for now, and leave unknown amounts of sensitive but no longer needed data there for the next virus which is bound to happen eventually?

Sorry, but I consider it eminently sensible to use the opportunity to actually clean out dangerous garbage before it blows up around your head next time.

Yes, this is not necessary for virus removal (iff the virus gets removed properly). It is to guard against sensitive but no longer needed data coming into the wrong hands later on.

Whether the "wrong hands" this has been for have been virus writers or law enforcement or both: one can't know without being involved.

Re:So what would you do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21544113)

So what would you do?

Reformat and reinstall?

Seriously, viruses don't have access to thousands-of-dollars-per-hour drive recovery technicians that would be stymied by such a wipe. If you want to keep a virus/backdoor/etc from getting your data you backup, reformat and reinstall. If you want the feds to keep from getting your data, then you multi-pass-wipe the drive without a backup.

I'm not sure what to think of this...... (1)

klwood911 (731463) | more than 6 years ago | (#21543689)

All these thoughts come to mind:

1. What did they charge the GOVERNMENT to do this?
2. Should I be upset that this guy needed to use my tax money to hire an outside company to do something when my tax money goes for a goverment IT person making $100K+ that could do it or that the person could have used the theoretical $700 hammer to get the job done?
3. Did Geeks on Call have licensed software to do the job? (OK aBB reference)
4. Did Geeks on Call backup the data to a portable drive to take back to the office (Yes I know this was BB, but who else does this?)

So many questions and no answers. I'm sure I could think of more.

Re:I'm not sure what to think of this...... (1)

Fnord666 (889225) | more than 6 years ago | (#21544057)

2. Should I be upset that this guy needed to use my tax money to hire an outside company to do something when my tax money goes for a goverment IT person making $100K+ that could do it or that the person could have used the theoretical $700 hammer to get the job done?
Because the in-house IT guy probably knows that a nice, clean backup of the drive prior to wiping is his ticket to an early retirement. For the less cynical of you, he is a lot more likely to know that this is a no-no and call someone about the issue.

Somewhat off topic...MOD down if you must. (3, Insightful)

rindeee (530084) | more than 6 years ago | (#21543709)

I just have a little gripe. It seems to me that we /. types and the public in general are obsessed with portraying anything the government of (insert western country here) does in a negative light. I think we've lost sight of the fact that the vast majority of people working in the public service sector are hard working neighbors of ours that go to work every day and do their part in an attempt to make society better. This isn't to say that the bureaucracy doesn't often screw up, create inefficiencies and from time to time do shady things, but more often than not these problems are the effect of a handful of idiots that have enough power to make things happen. Just like in a neighborhood, any large entity will have all types of people; good, bad, honest, dishonest, etc. Constant unending criticism from the general public neither productive or effective. It simply serves to cheapen the efficacy of justified criticism when it is in fact needed. What this guy did is without question 'shady' (not to mention illegal) but it doesn't reflect on the leadership as a whole. We have many good, hard working leaders, and many more working behind the scenes to make ours some of the best living in the world. Don't lose sight of that. Just my two cents.

Re:Somewhat off topic...MOD down if you must. (1)

redelm (54142) | more than 6 years ago | (#21543961)

It is the American way to be mistrustful of all governments, even/especially our own. This is common among all parties, although the Dems worry about different govt actions than the Rs. And the Libs and others worry about still different ones.


This is a major latent difference between Americans and the English and much of RoW who accept the legitimacy of government even though they frequently complain about certain implementation details and effects.

Re:Somewhat off topic...MOD down if you must. (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21544527)

Ironically, this country exists because of mistrust of government. Even more ironic is when one sees the actions of the current administration, it becomes easy to understand why Tigers sometimes eat their young.

Re:Somewhat off topic...MOD down if you must. (1)

stormguard2099 (1177733) | more than 6 years ago | (#21544081)

Here's the reason, there are so many news articles about government mistakes. When the vast majority that you speak of do their job right, it isn't news worthy because they are doing their job. We don't have news articles proclaming the garbage man sucessfully collected the trash today in the same sense that we don't have articles claiming that X senator didn't receive a bribe. We expect these things. On the other hand, when officials, especially public ones, make mistakes the press covers these things. Since most of us don't live next to public officials, our only source of information is the press in general, therefore giving the general public a sckewed view on how most officials are.
As far as justified criticism vs unjustified, I think that's more of a matter of opinion. People hold different standards on what is to be expected but given the bias I mentioned above it's hard to blame the general public for having a negative view in general.

Re:Somewhat off topic...MOD down if you must. (1)

symbolic (11752) | more than 6 years ago | (#21545337)

I agree with you - but your assessment unfortunately doesn't apply to most people that aren't in "leadership" positions. You know, the ones we elect from time to time - the ones that are supposed to be directly accountable to their constituency. The ones that seem to perpetuate this pronounced disconnect between what they say, and what they do.

Re:Somewhat off topic...MOD down if you must. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21545689)

You're naivete suggests you've never worked directly in any government Civil Service. This Coward has. Trust me, "attempt[ing] to make society better" is the furthest thing from your average civil servant's mind.

Re:Somewhat off topic...MOD down if you must. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21545823)


"I think we've lost sight of the fact that the vast majority of people working in the public service sector are hard working neighbors of ours that go to work every day and do their part in an attempt to make society better."

Nobody is arguing that they aren't hard working. It is their failure to make society better on which they must be judged. In governments you get marks for results not effort.

"the effect of a handful of idiots that have enough power to make things happen."

The continued existence of the handfull of idiots is a failure of the entire system and everybody in it.

"Just like in a neighborhood, any large entity will have all types of people; good, bad, honest, dishonest, etc."

The existence of good people does not excuse the existence of the bad. It isn't about statistical averages.

"What this guy did is without question 'shady' (not to mention illegal) but it doesn't reflect on the leadership as a whole."

Yes it does. You are completely wrong. The failure of the leadership as a whole is manifest daily in stories about guys like this one. Corruption is endemic and sliding out of control.

"Constant unending criticism from the general public neither productive or effective."

Something I agree with. The time has long passed to stop whining and move to direct action. I think what bothers you and everyone else is that in a democracy public opionion is supposed to affect change. That it is ineffective is a symtom of the loss of democracy. Other than that point, I find your apologist stance dressed up as optimism distasteful.

Re:Somewhat off topic...MOD down if you must. (1)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 6 years ago | (#21545899)

I think we've lost sight of the fact that the vast majority of people working in the public service sector are hard working neighbors of ours that go to work every day and do their part in an attempt to make society better.

People can be good people and still be ordered to do bad things. Some will resign or risk firing, more will complain and protest, but many will mainly reassure themselves that it's not their responsibility, obey orders and feel bad about the people affected. It takes a lot to stand up and refuse to obey orders for most of us. I was put in that position last year. I kicked up a massive storm with my manager, walked out for the afternoon, came back next day and did the task in a shoddy, semi-sabotaged way. I'm ashamed I didn't refuse point blank. It wasn't a big thing, not something most of the people concerned would care about, but it wasn't something I was comfortable doing and that's what matters here. I resigned some months later when I'd found a different job. I like to think of myself as an independent sort of person but I was still very uncomfortable telling my employers that I wouldn't do what they asked me to.

The people who work in government can be your good, conscientious, hard-working neighbours. But we need to keep the government itself on a choking leash because it is hard for the legs to control the dog sometimes.

I am proud ... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21543719)

... that they overcharged the shit out of this guy. $1100 to run a utility? Score.

Speaking on behalf of this guy... (1)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 6 years ago | (#21545203)

... $1100 for a tech guy or at least ten times that amount for a lawyer explaining what was on the hard-drive. Score.

Policy (2, Interesting)

unenviabletask (827481) | more than 6 years ago | (#21543723)

Why is there no policy in the government that means his use of another company to remove data from his system was an automatic breach with serious consequences. I have implemented that policy in my company, namely don't install unapproved software or attempt to change any setting at all without IT approval.

Most new HDDs have intenral "secure wipe" function (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21543755)

which can be accessed with Secure Erase [ucsd.edu] , a free disk wiping utility.

Takes a few minutes, and is allegedly more secure than DBAN but still not as secure as physical destruction.

You're welcome.

Corporations own gov't, gov't owns corporations... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21543759)

This is not shocking news. After all, corporations and gov't are merely quid-pro-quo whorehouses sold to the highest bidder. When the gov't needs illegal wire-taps, Verizon and Sprint allow them secret rooms to listen in on calls. When Haliburton (and KBR) need more revenue, the gov't hands out no-bid contracts. When the gov't dislikes literature, Amazon and Wikipedia ban the book "America Deceived". We The People had our gov't sold out from beneath us.
Final link (before Google Books caves to pressure and drops the title):
America Deceived (book) [iuniverse.com]

7-pass? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21543777)

Iirc, someone found out that, at least when dealing with commercial data recovery services, *none* were able to recover anything at all after but a single dd wipe with /dev/null or /dev/urandom on modern hard drives. What'd they miss?

I broke the cardinal rule... (4, Interesting)

stormguard2099 (1177733) | more than 6 years ago | (#21543783)

and actually RTFA. The article's focus is not on how they are paying too much to get rid of their tracks like half of the comments are about. the real issue is that a higher-up called a private business to handle it for him instead of using his own IT department. Yes, they ran a 7-level wipe on it but he claims he wasn't trying to remove data. His reason for the call was a virus, or so he claims. Suspicious? Sure, it's possible that something like that is required by regulations for his department but I would think there would be something against people using private IT businesses for company machinery, especially considering the hefty pricetag (charged as a business expense no less)

He also directed Geeks on Call to erase laptop computers that had been used by his two top political deputies, who had recently left the agency.

Jeff Phelps, who runs Washington's Geeks on Call franchise, declined to talk about specific clients, but said calls placed directly by government officials are unusual. He also said erasing a drive is an unusual virus treatment. "We don't do a seven-level wipe for a virus," he said.
Those just puts the icing on the cake as far as suspicious activities in my book.

Re:I broke the cardinal rule... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21545445)

As a former tech manager for a big Geeks on Call franchise, if one of my guys ever stepped on the toes of in-house IT they'd get a severe talking to or worse. If we were called into a business or gov't office it should have been IT that called us, or someone over their heads. We'd call ahead and confirm the appointment with their IT folks.

Phelps is a bit of a money grubbing whore so I'm not surprised his franchise would do this type of thing. Private sector would probably sue you to pieces for this type of thing.

Simple answer (4, Insightful)

billcopc (196330) | more than 6 years ago | (#21543943)

Let's suppose for a moment that whatever was on that hard drive would prove him guilty of all charges; the penalty for that would be severe, like a stiff fine and jail time.

Now let's suppose he did a good job of destroying all the evidence, now he can only be tried for destroying evidence, which is pretty bad, but perhaps not as bad as whatever it is he actually did.

If you were wanted for heinous crimes against humanity (I don't know uhh... biological warfare!), and the only person with any proof winds up dead at your hands, you just need to defend yourself against the murder charge.

Security depends on attack capabilities (1)

redelm (54142) | more than 6 years ago | (#21544291)

Whether a 7 pass or 35 pass wipe is good enough has to depend on exactly how data can be recovered. Does anyone have a good reference on current technological capabilities?

I suspect that even after a single zero pass, the disk has to be mounted in some sort of electron microscope. Maybe it can stay mounted but the heads have to have analog circuitry attached. In either case, the question is over magnetism remaining after overwriting. I suspect that three good [uncracked] pseudorandom passes is more than sufficient. But perhaps not if more than 10% magnetism remains after over-write (which I doubt because the BER would then be beyond ECC).

Re:Security depends on attack capabilities (3, Informative)

boa13 (548222) | more than 6 years ago | (#21544831)

This paper provides a great explanation of the current state of the data recovery industry. How modern hard drives work, how they fail, how they can be recovered, myths and realities.

[PDF] Recovering Unrecoverable Data [actionfront.com]

Unless the company has made great advances in the product they advertise at the end of the paper, you can be sure that two passes are more than enough to prevent anyone from recovering your data. Intelligence agencies are more likely to kidnap and torture you than invest the extraordinary time and money to get your bits back.

Re:Security depends on attack capabilities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21545519)

Intelligence agencies are more likely to kidnap and torture you than invest the extraordinary time and money to get your bits back.

You're assuming that the data in which some intelligence agency was interested would be recoverable by interrogation/torture. Information like "I erased a list of compromised employees within your agency's government" is almost certainly recoverable through such methods. But what about all the names on said list? Maybe the subject of interrogation/torture could reliably recall a handful of names. As more names are forcibly extracted, the less reliable the information would be simply due to ordinary human memory (and the stress of the situation). The first name given up is probably accurate (it likely stuck in his head for some reason), but the accuracy of the 15th name is at best unreliable. Unless it's a very short list, they want the bits; most likely, they want the bits no matter what.

- T

Physical Security? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21544479)

If the IT folks are worried about security and evidence (and if he is being investigated, they probably would want to be) - shouldn't they have taken some physical security measures? Disable boot from CD/floppy/USB, password protect BIOS, and physically lock the case? Sure you can crack the BIOS, or bust the lock/case - but I doubt Geeks On Call would go that far.

Legal issue, not technical (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21544487)

This is totally a legal issue, not technical.
It's also a legal issue for the customer, who hires the tech service, not the tech service.

He should have used a Mac (1)

alchemist68 (550641) | more than 6 years ago | (#21544701)

Mac OS X uses the 7 & 35-pass Gutmann method for securely deleting files. Deleting files is not wrong, that's why we delete them! Incidentally, both President Bill Clinton and George W. Bush use Apple Macintoshes for their personal and profession computers. Probably for this and other reasons.

Seven-level wipe? (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 6 years ago | (#21544939)

The DoD standard calls for inverting all bits (i.e. each byte ~0xff), then all 1, then all 0, then verify. In reality, a single overwrite with random data will keep forensics experts from finding the data itself; they can MFM the drive but the hardware takes years and years to run and can't reconstruct the data accurately really (it's statistical, you have either 1.001 or 0.001 after writing, but you've done this so many times you have like 1.037 or 0.049 etc, the numbers go up and down...).

Forensics experts can glaringly tell when you've faked dates on files or wiped files due to the placement of data on the drive by sector itself. They can't get the data, but they can tell you what you did with it. It's like paleontology, but you can only tell that bones were there, and not what kind or shape or size.

Couldn't do it himself... but many can. (1)

binaryspiral (784263) | more than 6 years ago | (#21545085)

Laptops are rarely backed up. Even if they are its typically only what the user wants to backup. Archiving files at the server level (email, web, and ftp proxies) would be the better choice.

And why didn't this guy just do a simple google search and use a DBAN boot disk? Moron had to call for help...

Backups? (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 6 years ago | (#21545527)

Unless this is one of those ancient 20th Century operations, its quite possible that periodic backups have been performed on all systems data.

Oh, wait. This is a gov't operation. Never mind.

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