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Security UPDATE--The Challenge of Data Destruction, Part 2--May 18, 2005

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1. In Focus: The Challenge of Data Destruction, Part 2

2. Security News and Features

- Recent Security Vulnerabilities

- Trend Micro Acquires InterMute; Novell Acquires Immunix

- What IT Pros Must Know About Sarbanes-Oxley

- Microsoft Plans Gatekeeper Security Contest

3. Instant Poll

4. Security Toolkit

- Security Matters Blog


- Security Forum Featured Thread

5. New and Improved

- Stop Buffer Overflow Attacks


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==== 1. In Focus: The Challenge of Data Destruction, Part 2 ====

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

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the challenge of data destruction. Based on the number of responses to that column we received, the issue is something a lot of you have to deal with.

A couple of readers wrote to suggest that heating the disks to a high temperature might help destroy the magnetic properties of the platters. One reader in particular said that people who work in universities might find this concept to be an interesting exercise for students working in the physics labs.

Two more readers presented what I think is a very economical idea in terms of both time and money. They suggested having the drives crushed in a hydraulic press. One of the readers contracts with a local machine shop to do the work. He stands by while the drives are crushed, and each visit costs less than $100. The other reader said he first wipes disks with a software tool, then takes them to a local automobile scrap yard. A worker at the scrap yard crushes the drives in exchange for beer! The crushed parts could be separated into multiple lots and disposed of at several trash dumps and recycling locations.

Another interesting idea is to use an oxyacetylene cutting torch or arc welder to destroy drives. This sort of approach would certainly destroy data, however it could become expensive in terms of time and money depending on who did the work. And as one reader pointed out, the fumes released from burning drive components could be toxic.

Yet another reader wrote to suggest driving a nail through each drive. I agree that would work, but it's a lot of hammering if there are a few hundred drives to destroy. The same reader also pointed out an error I made in mentioning liquid hydrogen as a way to freeze a drive. The proper chemical is liquid nitrogen. I apologize for that mistake.

A novel solution is to use a shredder. A reader said he contracts with a company that offers an on-site shredding service for documents. As a demonstration of its shredder's ability to shred other materials, the company shredded an old laptop into pieces no bigger than a fingernail! Because the reader already contracts with the shredding company for other shredding needs, having it destroy old disk drives costs the reader nothing extra.

What if you want to recycle your hardware so that it can be used again by someone else? A reader suggested using a computer recycling company such as RetroBox, which charges a fee to collect your old systems and wipe the drives of all data using technology that meets Department of Defense specifications. RetroBox then sells the refurbished systems and returns part of the proceeds to your company. Depending on your policies and needs, this could be a reasonable solution.

Finally, another reader suggested using a data encryption solution that requires a hardware-based key to access the data, such as SecureIDE (at the URL below). If no key is available, then in theory the data can't be accessed. This is a reasonable solution for many businesses, and so are data encryption techniques that use software-based keys. However, someone might be able to recover the data if he or she has enough resources to allocate to the task.

Thanks to all of you who contributed to this list of interesting solutions.


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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

Trend Micro Acquires InterMute; Novell Acquires Immunix

Security solution provider Trend Micro has acquired antispyware maker InterMute for approximately $15 million. Novell acquired Linux application security vendor Immunix, maker of AppArmor.

What IT Pros Must Know About Sarbanes-Oxley

Chances are you've already been affected by sections 404 and 302 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), whether or not you realize it. SOX has ramifications for everyone in the corporation from the CEO and board of directors down to IT professionals. Randy Franklin Smith examines the various IT areas that SOX affects to help you get a handle on your role in implementing compliance-related mandates from upper management.

Microsoft Plans Gatekeeper Security Contest

All right, all you European IT pros--it's time to dig into the security resources at and and brush up on your security skills because Microsoft is having a contest. The Gatekeeper Test will be open to IT pros in more than 19 European countries and will test security knowledge with 19 multiple-choice questions and one open-ended question. The grand prize winner goes to Microsoft TechEd 2005 Europe in Amsterdam on Bill G's dime. In addition to the TechEd trip, you could win a Windows XP Tablet PC, a Media Center PC, or subscriptions to Microsoft TechNet Magazine and Windows IT Pro magazine. Visit


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Attend the Black Hat Briefings & Training USA, July 23-28, 2005 in Las Vegas. World renowned security experts reveal tomorrow's threats today. Free of vendor pitches, the briefings are designed to be pragmatic regardless of your security environment. Featuring 25 hands-on training courses and 10 conference tracks. Lots of Windows stuff profiled.

Get Excited About SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services

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==== 3. Instant Poll ====

Results of Previous Poll: Do you map the data you collect during wireless-network audits by using tools such as StumbVerter and MapPoint?

The voting has closed in this Windows IT Pro Security Hot Topic nonscientific Instant Poll. Here are the results from the 12 votes:

- 25% Yes

- 8% I haven't been, but I plan to

- 67% No, and I don't plan to

New Instant Poll: How will you use WSUS in your enterprise?

Go to the Security Hot Topic and submit your vote for

- As my patch management infrastructure

- As a backup to SMS 2003 or other patch management infrastructure

- As a reporting tool to check on compliance with patches

- I won't be using WSUS

==== 4. Security Toolkit ====

Security Matters Blog: Firefox 1.0.4 Fixes Three Critical Security Problems

by Mark Joseph Edwards,

If you use Mozilla Firefox, it's time to upgrade to the latest version, 1.0.4, released May 11. The new version fixes three critical security problems.


by John Savill,

Q: Are Group Policy Objects (GPOs) inherited by child domains?

Find the answer at

Security Forum Featured Thread: Blocking Port 220

A forum participant writes, "I have a Dell box running Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1), and my network folks tell me that it's been compromised by a Trojan horse program. They see outbound traffic over port 220. Their solution is to take the machine down and reformat the drive. There has got to be another way. How do I block this port--with an outbound firewall?" Join the discussion at


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==== 5. New and Improved ====

by Renee Munshi, [email protected]

Stop Buffer Overflow Attacks

SoftSphere Technologies announced the release of Defence Plus, the latest version of its antihacking software tool previously known as Anti-Cracker Shield. Defence Plus detects and stops buffer overflow attacks, protecting Windows, its components, and all software applications installed on the computer. When intrusion-like behavior is detected, Defence Plus blocks it and notifies you with a sound. You can click an icon to view a detailed report on the blocked attack. Defence Plus is designed for Windows NT/2000/XP/2003 and costs $39 for a single-user license. For more information, go to

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[email protected].

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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