The Unknown Treasure Chest for Fraud

Alex Helfand, ENCE, Computer Forensic Specialist

It would be unheard of for a company to take a notebook of customer social security numbers and throw it into a trashcan. Most often, these types of documents are run through a shredder to ensure that they can never be seen again. But how can a hard drive be destroyed? Sometimes deleting files and then wiping the drive is not enough.

A trend in the digital world is solid state drives (SSD) – much faster than normal hard drives that are prominent today. Although more expensive, they free up more time for user productivity with their blazing speeds. However, not all is perfect in SSD World – researchers are still learning the ins and outs of how data can be deleted from an SSD. As ArsTechnica writes on their blog:

Basically, the issue with SSDs is this—let’s say your SSD is a pirate, and your data is buried treasure. If you tell an SSD pirate to make his buried treasure disappear, all he really does is burn the treasure map. The buried treasure is still out there for someone to find if they know where to look. This isn’t the case for all SSDs in the long term, but it is the case for all of them in the short term.

What this boils down to is that right now, there is no way of securely erasing all data from an SSD. Other than physically destroying a $500 drive, it just might be safer to hang onto it until the researchers figure out a way to erase data forever. SSDs give users a lot more speed, but take control of file storage from the users.  For now, the best strategy is encrypting drives before they are used, which slows down performance considerably, but will keep sensitive company information from being accessed by the wrong individuals.

Yes, technology just got faster, but to keep your files truly safe, it’s best to use encryption and slow everything down to prevent fraud.

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