Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/12/15/unix_data_wipe/

Free data-wipe tools for *nix systems

Making data hygiene easy

By Thomas C Greene

Posted in Security, 15th December 2004 10:30 GMT

We offer several free tools to make data hygiene more convenient on Unix and Unix-like systems. Download them here. The archive you'll want is called LinuxWipeTools.tar.gz. (But note that there are numerous other free security tools and resources for *nix and Windows systems listed on the page.)

The purpose here is to simplify regular maintenance. These tools are not intended as substitutes for the "wipe" and "shred" utilities, which should always be used on sensitive individual files. What we have here are backup tools that will easily and securely wipe large areas of the disk that might contain data traces you've neglected, or failed to eliminate properly.

The scripts are meant to clean large disk areas safely and conveniently while you work with your system. They're intended for basic, regular maintenance: i.e., to eliminate duplicate data traces in obscure areas of the disk, and the remnants of files that have merely been deleted. There is nothing here that you couldn't do from the command line: the idea is to make it convenient so that you will do it. Often.

The WipeSwap script will automatically detect your swap device, stop it, wipe it securely, and re-create it. This usually takes only 20-30 minutes. The swap partition is a great accumulator of unforeseen and/or forgotten data, and should be wiped regularly. This makes it easy and safe.

The WipeFree scripts will securely wipe un-allocated disk space, where the remnants of deleted files may remain. Again, this merely simplifies the process.

Thanks to the courage of numerous volunteers, we can say that the scripts appear safe and effective on a variety of Unix, BSD and Linux systems.

Many thanks to Conrad Wood and David C. Niemi for improvements they contributed, and to Jim Knopf for an important fix and several excellent suggestions. ®

Thomas C Greene is the author of Computer Security for the Home and Small Office, a comprehensive guide to system hardening, malware protection, online anonymity, encryption, and data hygiene for Windows and Linux.

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