Nowadays, data security is the burning issue not only for companies and government agencies, but everyday people as well. In the world of high tech, it can be surprisingly challenging to destroy information, especially when you have no idea how to do it. We are all well aware of recent notorious court cases in which data resurrected from a magnetic device was the only evidence available and ended up determining the outcome of the trial. Various studies have shown that over 40% of all discarded magnetic storage devices still contain personal and classified information. As you can already guess, data discovered this way is generally not used in the owner’s favor. And constant hardware upgrading makes the problem even more complicated than ever.
Data security is actually a two-sided problem. Ensuring confidentiality doesn’t just require information to be stored properly: it must also be destroyed according to certain rules. The first step to protecting yourself is to know exactly which security precautions work and which do not.
Many people think that repartitioning a disk will completely destroy its contents. But this is actually a misconception. Repartitioning the drive only alters references to partitions in the partition table, leaving all file data intact. In fact, there are a number of programs available to successfully recover previously deleted partitions.
Formatting a drive doesn’t guarantee data destruction either. Formatting procedure implies modification of the Master File Table (MFT) that keeps track of where file contents are stored on the disk and verifies each sector for consistency. Even low-level formatting does not actually erase the file contents for good, since they can still be resurrected from their deleted state with minimal effort by using the popular Magnetic Force Microscopy technology. MFM is an effective tool for magnetic investigation on a submicron scale. Images obtained by MFM are the space distribution of certain parameters characterizing magnetic probe-sample interaction, i.e. interaction force, amplitude of vibrating magnetic probe, etc. MFM technology can even be successfully used to resurrect deleted information even after multiple overwriting, since it provides a unique way to differentiate between ones and zeros of various passes – after all, they are easy to tell apart when looking through a magnetic microscope.
The only way to make sure that all the data has been erased from a magnetic device is to overwrite all on-disk sectors with random patterns. This might sound complicated, but Paragon Disk Wiper will make it easy for you.
The process of deliberately, irreversibly removing or destroying the data stored on a memory device (magnetic disks, flash memory drives, etc.) is generally known as “data sanitization.” A device that has been sanitized with Paragon Disk Wiper will have no usable data remaining on it, and even advanced forensic tools will not ever be able to recover it, thus providing maximum level of security.