Security UPDATE--The Challenge of Data Destruction--May 4, 2005

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Understanding Compliance from an IT Point of View

Turn Raw Security Data into an Enterprise Defense System


1. In Focus: The Challenge of Data Destruction

2. Security News and Features

- Recent Security Vulnerabilities

- SurfControl Enters Enterprise Anti-Spyware Market

- Tenebril Gets Funding and a New CEO

- Protecting Data at Rest

3. Security Toolkit

- Security Matters Blog


4. New and Improved

- Fight Fraudulent Web Sites


==== Sponsor: Quest Software ====

Understanding Compliance from an IT Point of View

There are a variety of compliance-related regulations affecting organizations and industries today. These regulations require that differing initiatives be put in place to meet a myriad of requirements. Many of the regulations are vague and cause confusion about what actually needs to be done to become compliant. In this techbrief titled: 'Understanding Compliance from an IT Point of View', you will learn how compliance requirements impact the IT environment, what procedures and policies organizations need to implement to become compliant, and what steps are necessary to meet these objectives. Also, you will find out about solutions you can use to secure internal controls, automate reporting, and prepare for remediation--all components for passing a compliance-related audit. Get your tech brief today.


==== 1. In Focus: The Challenge of Data Destruction ====

by Mark Joseph Edwards, News Editor, mark at ntsecurity / net

Two weeks ago in my editorial "Wipe Old Hard Disks Clean--Reprise," I wrote about erasing disk data and mentioned some software and hardware tools that can help with that task. This week I want to follow up with some more information.

Sande Nissen wrote to tell me about the difficulties faced by the college he works for. Each year, the college replaces a portion of its computers, and this year he will need to dispose of about 200 computers. Before those systems can be sent to a recycler, the data on the disks must be destroyed. According to Nissen, the college's tool of choice at the moment (Symantec Ghost Solution Suite's GDisk component) requires about 1.5 hours per gigabyte to wipe disk data when using a Department of Defense-certified erasing routine. With so many disk drives and so many gigabytes to erase, the college needs a faster way to ensure data destruction.

Nissen said the college doesn't trust demagnetizers (degaussers), which erase disk data by subjecting the drives to a strong magnetic field. Degaussers are also expensive, costing anywhere from a few thousand dollars to more than $25,000. Even renting the equipment is expensive. Some companies charge $1400 per month per rental unit. If you're interested in degaussers, here are some links to manufacturers and rental companies:

An important thing to know about degaussers is that there are two basic types: open field and closed field. Open field units expose their magnetic fields to the surrounding environment, which means you and anything else that might be within range. That might pose health risks and could damage anything magnetic in the vicinity, including the magnetic strips on your credit cards. Closed field units, which are far more expensive than open field units, typically let you insert the drives inside the unit and contain the magnetic field emissions.

Nissen said the college has tried physically destroying the drives by driving a nail through them or smashing them. A few years ago, I read about people using liquid hydrogen to help destroy disk drives. Liquid hydrogen quickly freezes and makes brittle whatever it comes into contact with. If you dip a drive into it, you can then easily smash the drive with a hammer. This approach is a bit extreme because liquid hydrogen is very dangerous.

If you have only a few drives to erase, destruction is relatively simple. But as we've learned from Nissen's situation, the task becomes much more of a challenge when you have a lot of drives. Do you know of a better way to destroy data on a large number of drives, with a high degree of certainty that no one can recover the data? If so, send me an email message with the details.


Don't miss today's Web chat with Randy Franklin Smith on the topic "The Security Event Log: The Unofficial Guide." It's at 12:00 P.M. Eastern (9:00 A.M. Pacific). For more information, go to


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==== 2. Security News and Features ====

Recent Security Vulnerabilities

If you subscribe to this newsletter, you also receive Security Alerts, which inform you about recently discovered security vulnerabilities. You can also find information about these discoveries at

SurfControl Enters Enterprise Anti-Spyware Market

SurfControl announced its new Enterprise Threat Shield, which is designed to defend against malicious software, including spyware. The product stops adware, spyware, and keyloggers and protects against threats from Instant Messaging (IM) clients, peer-to-peer (P2P) clients, and games.

Tenebril Gets Funding and a New CEO

Tenebril, makers of SpyCatcher Enterprise, secured approximately $6.5 million in new funding. The company also recently hired former Zone Labs President and COO Irfan Salim as CEO.

Protecting Data at Rest

When Ameritrade announced that it had lost backup tapes containing personal information for about 200,000 of its customers, there was a clear sense of deja vu all over again. After all, just 2 months ago, Bank of America revealed that it had lost tapes containing data for 1.2 million federal employees. Elliot King discusses the ramifications in this article on our Web site.


==== Resources and Events ====

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==== 3. Security Toolkit ====

Security Matters Blog

by Mark Joseph Edwards,

Stay Away from Googkle Dot Com and MSMN Dot Com

Someone who decided to take advantage of people's inevitable typing errors has set up a Web site at Googkle dot com that's designed to infect visitors' systems with malware. Google isn't the only one whose identity is being misused. The MSMN dot com domain mimics MSN's search site.


by John Savill,

Q: How do I use the Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1) Security Configuration Wizard (SCW)?

Find the answer at


==== Announcements ====

(from Windows IT Pro and its partners)

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==== 4. New and Improved ====

by Renee Munshi, [email protected]

Fight Fraudulent Web Sites

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Editor's note: Share Your Security Discoveries and Get $100

Share your security-related discoveries, comments, or problems and solutions in the Windows IT Security print newsletter's Reader to Reader column. Email your contributions (500 words or less) to [email protected] If we print your submission, you'll get $100. We edit submissions for style, grammar, and length.


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