Secure erasing MBA SSD for return

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by dpo, Feb 23, 2011.

  1. dpo macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2008
    #1
    Just wondering if anyone saw the Macworld article on a recent study which shows that normal methods of drive erasure are not effective on SSDs?

    Unfortunately, as many of the commenters note, the actual brands of SSDs tested were not revealed. If anyone has read any thorough reports on how well this works with the MBA SSD (ie using Drive Utility 7-pass erase and similar) or has done their own testing I'd be grateful to hear as I may be returning an MBA 13".
     
  2. calvol macrumors 6502a

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    Feb 3, 2011
  3. edenwaith macrumors 6502a

    edenwaith

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2001
    #3
    Erasing SSDs

    I am the developer for the secure-erasing utility Permanent Eraser and I have searched this issue of erasing SSDs.

    The current methods of erasing data have been developed for older hard drives, not newer SSD drives, so it is questionable if overwriting will even overwrite over the current data on an SSD.

    The best solution I have discovered so far is to encrypt all of your data on the drive. And if you need to ensure that the data is destroyed from the SSD, you will need to destroy the SSD, as well (i.e. nail gun, sledgehammer, and then incinerator).
     
  4. hfg macrumors 68040

    hfg

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    Dec 1, 2006
    Location:
    Cedar Rapids, IA. USA
    #4
    I suppose that could seriously affect being able to return it ... :rolleyes:
     
  5. edenwaith macrumors 6502a

    edenwaith

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    Aug 7, 2001
    #5
    Yes, that might void Apple's warranty.
     
  6. vincenz macrumors 601

    vincenz

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    Oct 20, 2008
    #6
    Are you sure about this? I'm really paranoid that someone might find my photos when they buy it back refurbished from Apple.
     
  7. KPOM macrumors G5

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    Oct 23, 2010
    #7
    Funny, but I do agree with the OP that an effective secure erase would be a good idea. I saw the Macworld article, and it's pretty clear that Apple's "Secure Empty Trash" is next to useless in this regard.

    The inability to securely erase an SSD has significant implications for enterprises, particularly any company that does business with the US government. Would you feel comfortable that some SSD out there might have millions of social security or credit card numbers that can't be reliably erased?
     
  8. edenwaith macrumors 6502a

    edenwaith

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    Aug 7, 2001
    #8
    From what I've read about how SSDs write out their data to different locations on a disk, it makes trying to erase the file (which could potentially now exist multiple times on the SSD) quite difficult.

    However, I have not come across the same arguments by erasing the entire disk. My thought is that if one wiped the entire disk (and perhaps zeroed out the data, as well), and then installed a fresh copy of the OS, this could potentially clean out the SSD.

    This is just a theory, and I have not had a chance to verify it. There certainly could be a lot of holes in this idea.
     
  9. edenwaith macrumors 6502a

    edenwaith

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2001
    #9
    When the new MacBook Airs came out last year, I checked the version of the srm utility installed on them. Version 1.2.8/Apple-6. Nothing new there, so I do not think that Apple has addressed this issue unless they have some special controller in their hardware in how data is stored on SSDs.
     
  10. hfg macrumors 68040

    hfg

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2006
    Location:
    Cedar Rapids, IA. USA
    #10
    Yeah, I have been thinking the same thing after reading that article on secure erase. With an operating system disk, there is a chance that your erased file, or parts of it, could be left on an SSD disk. But, I would think that a "zero out" full erase of the entire ssd disk would, in fact, cover the entire disk that was active. I don't know how you would get the reserve spots, or if those are switched in and out so as to contain data if not defective.

    -howard
     
  11. halledise macrumors 65816

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    May 7, 2009
    Location:
    Hamilton Island, Whitsundays, QLD Australia
    #11
    hmmm and what sort of naughty photos do we have on our HDD ? ;)

    when you've deleted all your stuff just run Disk Utility from App/Utility folder and select 'erase free space' selecting the 7-pass option.

    that'd do the trick for you.

    alternatively, start up from dvd/usb and go to disk utility then 'erase' your entire HDD selecting the 7-pass option.
    then reinstall the OSX.
     
  12. dpo thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2008
    #12
    Thanks for the replies.

    I did in fact do a full 7-pass delete / fill up empty space via Disk Utility from the USB restore stick before reinstalling OS X.

    I also asked someone over at Apple and they assured me that an inhouse factory restore would be performed. But if they're just using the same (non-updated) secure erase utility, this is irrelevant. On the other hand if they give away a lot of customers' data, well, I don't think they want to go there.

    Another tack then: does anyone have any recommendations for verification, or software for trying to do a really strong undelete/file restore on the disk? I didn't have anything massively valuable there, but in this day and age it simply makes sense to take precautions. A huge advantage of Apple stuff over competitors is the resell value. But as such securing data becomes key.

    And I agree that the moral is, encrypt from day -1.
     
  13. firewood macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2003
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    #13
    Enterprises of that nature commonly only use encrypted storage for data. FileVault, plus secure virtual memory, plus encrypted disk images. Then the insecure erase is also done on top of that.
     

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