OT: How the FBI can r00t your hard drive

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

How the FBI can r00t your hard drive

The FBI is working hard to establish itself as the world's premier computer forensics expert.

The Bureau has deployed 193 Special Agents devoted specifically to cyber crime, along with more than 100 related support personnel at FBI Headquarters in Washington, and 142 "parts examiners" busily recovering data from seized computers in the field, FBI Director Louis Freeh told the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Wednesday.

"These are people who can take evidence off a hard drive that even fairly sophisticated users would think had been erased," Freeh explained.

Most computers sold in 1998 featured hard drives of six to eight GB capacity. But by the end of this year, sixty to eighty GB hard drives will be common, he noted -- and with considerable exaggeration, we observe. To tell the truth, twenty to forty GB hard drives will be "common" towards the end of this year. Sixty to eighty... well, that will remain in the realm of "dream boxes" for some time to come.

In any event, the continuing development of big HDDs "vastly increases the area that needs to be searched", he complained.

Yet there is hope on the horizon. The FBI has developed a program it calls the Automated Computer Examination System (ACES), which allows investigators to examine huge areas of magnetic media quickly, Freeh revealed.

This, combined with the FBI's Computer Wizards' ambition to "de-centralise computer examination," should eventually yield an efficient mechanism for lifting data from confiscated boxes, he reckons.

One putatively successful effort along these lines is a collaboration between the FBI and the San Diego Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory.

This de-centralised approach is supposed to increase the Bureau's efficiency in forensic investigation. New centres are planned for New England and Texas, and ought to be running soon, Freeh said. .



-- Carl Jenkins (Somewherepress@aol.com), February 18, 2000


One of the Norton Utilities I used to have (for Win 3.0) could erase all unallocated space on the drive. One of the options was a 'military' erasure, writing random characters over and over many times to those spaces. After doing that I don't see how any technology could recover what was there originally.

-- Tom Carey (tomcarey@mindspring.com), February 18, 2000.

Get BCwipe. Its free and works like a charm. http://www.jetico.sci.fi/index.htm#/bcwipe.htm

FROM PAGE: The BCWipe utility is a shell extender for Windows 95/98/NT, intended to secure delete your files. It supports correspondent U.S. Department of Defense recommendations (DoD 5200.28-STD). The BCWipe utility provides 3 ways to shred file's contents from the disk:

a. Delete with wiping. Using 'Delete with wiping' command you can delete and wipe your files and folders using pop-up context menus in Windows Shell (Explorer program).

b. Wipe free disk space. If you have previously deleted sensitive files using a standard operating system command, you may wipe free space on the disk where these files were stored - all previously deleted files' contents will be erased.

c. Swap file wiping. BCWipe utility automatically wipes Windows Swap file contents when you run 'Wipe free disk space' command.

-- Ivan (workin@ntherailroadallthelivelong.day), February 18, 2000.

LL needs to be wiped in more ways than one.

-- (wipedout@wacked.out), February 18, 2000.

Make sure any utility wipes "free space" from the end of a good file fragment (one you are still using) to the end of the cluster that file fragment is in.

One general problem is that the pigs still can read what is underneath your good (still in use) files if the files have just been created by writing over old sensitive files with a regular program without the sectors being securely wiped first.

You may have experienced a somewhat similar phenomena in the past with audio cassette tapes. If tightly wound and stored a long time without playing, the signal on one loop can "migrate" to adjacent loops, and when you play back, you can often hear what you expect, PLUS a faint bit of what is a couple of seconds ahead and behind.

-- A (A@AisA.com), February 19, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ