[lug] Paranoia and deletion: the wipe man page

davide davide.del.vento at gmail.com
Sat Jan 15 07:15:08 MST 2011

Since there was a discussion on this topic onlist not long ago, I
thought you'd find this interesting.

Sent to you by davide via Google Reader: Paranoia and deletion: the
wipe man page via Recent Entries from Cory Doctorow by Cory Doctorow on

Today I decided I wanted to really securely delete some files off my
hard-drive; a quick search revealed that the GNU/Linux wipe command was
just the thing. Before running it, I had a quick look at its man page
and discovered something much more interesting than mere dry
documentation: rather, the wipe manual is a paranoid masterpiece on the
possible snitchware lurking inside your hard-drive and the special
problems of being really sure you've deleted your data: I hereby
speculate that harddisks can use the spare remapping area to secretly
make copies of your data. Rising totalitarianism makes this almost a
certitude. It is quite straightforward to implement some simple
filtering schemes that would copy potentially interesting data. Better,
a harddisk can probably detect that a given file is being wiped, and
silently make a copy of it, while wiping the original as instructed.
Recovering such data is probably easily done with secret IDE/SCSI
commands. My guess is that there are agreements between harddisk
manufacturers and government agencies. Well-funded mafia hackers should
then be able to find those secret commands too.
Don't trust your harddisk. Encrypt all your data.
Of course this shifts the trust to the computing system, the CPU, and
so on. I guess there are also "traps" in the CPU and, in fact, in every
sufficiently advanced mass-marketed chip. Wealthy nations can find
those. Therefore these are mainly used for criminal investigation
and "control of public dissent".
People should better think of their computing devices as facilities
lended by the DHS.

(Image: Hard Drive 016, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from
jon_a_ross's photostream)
- Discarded photocopier hard drives stuffed full of corporate ...
- Device remotely destroys hard drive data - Boing Boing
- Hand-cranked Fujitsu ME-P3M hard drive degausser - Boing Boing
- Hard drive crushers... er.... crush drives hard - Boing Boing
- Table made from ancient, giant hard-drive platter - Boing Boing

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