We have been erasing hard drives and other storage mediums for years now with much success by overwriting the data with zeros and ones several times.  However, with the adoption of SSDs that may not be sufficient anymore.  According to researches at the University of California at San Diego, “newer solid state disks have a much different internal architecture, so it is unclear whether what has worked on magnetic media will work on SSDs as well.”

The researchers study shows that after trying 14 sanitizing techniques on SSDs ranging from Gutman’s 35-pass method to the Schneier 7-pass method they found is that every data-erasing technique left at least 10MB of recoverable data from a 100MB file.  In some techniques, such as overwriting the chip with pseudorandom data or using a British HMG IS5 baseline, left nearly all data intact.

Even using the secure deletion tools will not guarantee the data is actually deleted, in fact, the researchers state that those tools will sometimes leave the data fully intact.  This isn’t something most people want to hear.  Especially businesses.  While SSD technology isn’t widely adopted yet, it is definitely a growing trend, especially in mobile devices and notebook computers.


So how can you protect your data from prying eyes when you dispose of your SSD?  Well, the answer may be good old encryption.  The researchers propose encrypting all data from the start, then destroying the encryption keys and overwriting every page of data to securely wipe the SSD and block future key recovery.  Sounds like it would be slightly complex for the average user – that’s because it is.  It’s also probably even more of a pain for businesses who will have to deploy hundreds or thousands of computers in the future with SSDs.

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What do you think?  Will this news impact your adoption of SSDs?  And if you have a SSD already will you reconsider using it?


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