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News of a hard drive-destroying drill got your destructive urges going, though you thought the price was a bit steep:

How about thermite? If it can burn through an engine block it would destroy a hard drive.

It's a lot cheaper, a lot more fun and I'm convinced it would be more effective too :-P

Tom


Have one of these (drilled) and then attempt to walk past a customs official. He will ask for the password. Then what?

Them: What is the password?

Me: The drive is unreadable!

Them: I need the password!

(never mind!).

Herby


eleven and a half grand?!?!?!?!?!? When a hammerdrill + a bench vice = ~$100-150 (if that)

OK - might take slightly longer than a minute per drive, but at that price you could buy two, and hire two monkeys.... err.. I mean students to do it.

Not Paris, 'cos I wouldn't want to drill her, even for $11,500

Scott


14lb club hammer, a cold chisel and a steady-handed, fearless co-worker - everything you need to render a hard disk unreadable, and a lot less than $11.5k

Simon Ward


How about one of those ink re-filler Syringes a bottle of your fave fizzy drink (Irn-Bru for me)

Fill the syringe and pierce the "air hole" and fill the insides with the drink. wait a few hours or so and drain. The Fizzy drink has eaten some of the surface of the platters, and the sticky gunk makes the drive motors useless.

Heck see what those drinks can do to your teeth! :-\ :-/

But Thermite or Pick-Axe are better stress busting way's to go.....

Bill Cumming


I have drilled a drive once (for destruction reasons), but those platters are fscking hard, maybe you need a masonry drill - but that doesn' cut through the case.

Harddisks are amazingly tough things to destroy. For simple end user block, all you need to do it to spin it up and then drop (i.e. its head is unparked so you create a head crash), but that is easy for a recovery company - you need real physical damage to the platters before you can be sure it'll be hard work.

As for sledgehammer use - that doesn't guarantee unreadable platters but it's quite fun in a destructive sort of way. And you sure as hell won't do 60 an hour :-).

Peter


Reg veteran Lucy Sherriff volunteered as an observer of the London mayoral elections and wrote it up for your perusing pleasure, complete with polling station direction confusion and spoiled ballot judging kerfuffles. There were grumbles:

While observing the vote count is certainly important I would imagine most fraud has already taken place by this point.

The fact that you simply had to write down names and send them to the council to get voting cards (with very little validation) and then they don't check IDs when voting... of course you could do it all by post too just to be extra safe when committing fraud.

MarmiteToast


As Mike Taylor points out, the various interested parties have been acting as election scrutineers for as long as I've been involved (I was first elected to Rugby Council in 1987, and have been at most election counts until 2002 when I jacked it in).

Of course, for a candidate the count is the final part of a four week campaign where, in my case, I would typically have knocked on 1,000 doors. Through election day, we'd have been tallying which pledged supporters had been through the polling stations, followed by three hours of frantic door knocking to winkle out the last few through the evening. We were always over-particular in our observance of election laws, removing rosettes as we entered the polling station with elderly voters.

We counted the votes mechanically just once - I forget who the company was, but not a major IT player. They gave us a good price, as it was bleeding edge, but it went remarkable smoothly. As Lucy describes, a screenshot of disputed ballot papers would be shown - but then we'd always have a few to deal with when counting by hand too. Returning officers have a big thick book of rules, including pages and pages of examples of incorrectly filled ballor papers and how they should be interperted.

As has been rightly stated above, the potential for electoral fraud in this country is not in the count itself, it's (particularly) in the registration and postal voting systems.

Dunstan Vavasour


It's stupidly easy to "cheat" with a system that has no externally auditable trail. If the machines were to print out a barcode with your vote encoded (and tell you to keep it for a week or so) then that would give independent observers a chance to verify that it was valid... You could also make it possible to check on the web that a specific vote had counted the correct way (do it via a random ID generated on the day, printed on the barcode, and you can't trace it back to an individual either).

All in all, yes it's quite possible... But the audit trail becomes a lot harder once you don't have paper copies. It's also likely to be a lot more expensive. :)

Graham Wood


I was an observer a few years ago, I agree with the article that everyone should give it a go, it was very interesting to watch.

The most amusing part was how some of the ballots had been spoilt, obviously people wanted it to be known that they could and would vote, but not for anyone on that particular ballot. You had the usual pictures of smiley faces, or drawings of genitalia, however the best one was someone had put a letter in each box spelling B. O.L.L.O.X

There was great debate as to whether the X counted as the vote (It didn't and wasn't counted)

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