Computer: Storage: Drive
Secure Hard Disk   (+1, -2)  [vote for, against]
Hardware flash wipe

Many people realize that flash drives have the disadvantage of not being recoverable if they fail. There are various things that can cause this, but the point is that unlike a magnetic disk which can be recovered even if it is overwritten, a flash drive cannot. Obviously one can merely delete the entire drive if need be, but I propose a secure hard disk with an emergency delete button that will erase the entire disk instantly. This is already quite possible with a flash drive. It's silly that in, say, an action movie the hard disk delete operation has a bar that can take several minutes to delete but it *is* quite realistic since deleting a hard disk so that it cannot be restored is a time-consuming operation. This solution would be instantaneous and far more secure. Similar technology could be used for pen drives.

Note: Not sure why people are complaining about lack of solution. SSDs already die on their own if they don't have power. This just requires making a button to cause this to happen.
-- aguydude, Dec 11 2007

USENIX '01: Gutmann's Data Remanence paper http://www.cypherpu...Epeter/usenix01.pdf
No, simply unplugging your SSD won't thwart someone with sufficient resources. [jutta, Dec 21 2007]

Not necisary if you where a real spy just take out the entire laptop with a plastic explosive.
-- skybw, Dec 11 2007

Ok, so you explained what the idea is, but you didn't explain how you think it could be accomplished.
-- BJS, Dec 11 2007

Phew, I thought I had missed it.
-- Texticle, Dec 11 2007

How does it work?
-- jutta, Dec 11 2007

In the movies the HD with the Top Secret information on it is both a) removeable and b) left sitting on the desk with "Top Secret" stamped on it in Day-Glo, flourescent ink.

In reality, there's not much call for an "instant-wipe" that can't be accomplished much more satisfactorily by a sledgehammer.

In conversation with people who actually do some "cloak'n'dagger" stuff, they have armed guards.
-- FlyingToaster, Dec 11 2007

Investment banks do this with their decommissioned PCs. They use a hammer and a screwdriver. It's nearly instant and only costs £6.50 from your local hardware store.
-- wagster, Dec 11 2007

How to wipe a flash drive? Surely a charge could be stored in an on-board battery applied "the wrong way" would do it.
-- sprogga, Dec 12 2007

You could market a range of hard disk drives which, when you wanted to wipe them irrevocably would lower a small sheet of sandpaper onto the spinning disk platter.
-- hippo, Dec 12 2007

Exploding / hammering laptop drives might work, as they tend to have glass platterns. PC hard drives with metal based platterns may well survive what you describe with the data still recoverable.

So, I agree, there's no solution proposed. What about having a mini EMP bomb in the hard drive? it would also have to be enclosed in a Faraday cage to contain it.
-- TheLightsAreOnBut, Dec 12 2007

I figured no solution was necessary. All the button needs to do is disable the backup battery and power source. Works fine to kill standard SSDs (won't work on pen drives). I imagine the same would work on a pen drive, though making it small enough might be tougher.
-- aguydude, Dec 12 2007

OK, you need to assume a lot less.

Firstly, the vast majority of SSDs that people know about (USB flash disks) are flash based and therefore do not need a back-up battery or power source.

Secondly, you specified
"I propose a secure hard disk with an emergency delete button that will erase the entire disk instantly."
You do not actually explain that your proposed hard disk is not actually a hard disk but an SSD (Solid State Drive), or more importantly, that it is a volatile memory SSD.

I would propose a total re-write to clarify your idea. You should explain what you understand an SSD to be (perhaps with links), and how your button will erase the data from it, how it will be accessed when needed and not accidentally accessed when not needed. It's not a bad idea, just not very clearly explained.
-- TheLightsAreOnBut, Dec 12 2007

This is wrong on so may levels, most notably a basic misunderstanding of how these devices actually work. It also ignores the concept of encryption to keep your data safe.
-- webfishrune, Dec 12 2007

//PC hard drives with metal based platterns may well survive what you describe with the data still recoverable. //
Unlikely, since even an aluminium platter will be rendered
a) severely bent and missing large sections of magnetic coating, and hence
b) unlikely to be capable of being spun at anything like operational speed
-- AbsintheWithoutLeave, Dec 21 2007

There are ways this might work with nonvolatile storage. A flash drive presumably incorporates a simple processor to handle the USB protocol, and it may be possible to get this processor to overwrite the data on the drive repeatedly, powered by a small battery or capacitor. The battery and switch would make the drive a little more expensive. Depending on how the memory is accessed, you might also be able to drive excessive power through the bits, burning them all out.
-- Srimech, Dec 21 2007

random, halfbakery