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Solved: Cleaning evidence of porn and other unwanted junk

Discussion in 'All Other Software' started by thepcjanitor, Jan 21, 2006.

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  1. thepcjanitor

    thepcjanitor Thread Starter

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    I have been asked to clean a client's computer and he wants me to remove any and all traces of porn images, videos, site addresses, cookies, or anything else that might be detected by an "expert" searching for incriminating evidence. What's out there that might be helpful?

    And do any of you have any idea what kind of software is used by law enforcement to scan for such evidence?

    This is an innocent guy whose nephew misused his computer while visiting, and the guys a teacher and a minister and cannot afford to have any hint of such stuff on his computer.

    I saw a post about porn which suggested redgragon software, which I tried. I replied to that thread with a question, but it's a thread marked "solved" and I don't know if people read those any more, so I'm starting a new thread here.
     
  2. kiwiguy

    kiwiguy

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    If enough money is available to the organisation doing the investigation, "almost nothing" will prevent data recovery.

    If it's that sensitive an issue, replace the hard drive and reload Windows, incinerate the old hard drive, or disassemble it and grind the platter(s) with an angle grinder. That's permanent and probably amost as cheap as any other method in terms of time and effort!

    Otherwise:
    http://killdisk.com/

    The purchased one would be best.
     
  3. TOGG

    TOGG

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    Red Dragon's 'Exposed' is just a file finder. It won't remove anything except to the Recycle Bin. Anything 'deleted' by Windows can be recovered until the section of hard drive it occupied has been repeatedly overwritten, either by other files or, preferably, a disk sanitizer.

    Windows also stores lots of detail in things called index.dat and UserAssist files, more details here; http://www.acesoft.net/delete_index.dat_files.htm and here; http://www.utdallas.edu/~jeremy.bryan.smith/ (click on 'Articles' then 'Explorer Spy').

    I believe that Javacool's MRUBlaster cleans or deletes UserAssist files (and index.dat if the IEPlugin is used). Several other cleaners claim to deal with index.dat files, including CCleaner.

    PS. Here's another bit of background reading; http://www.csoonline.com/read/040103/machine.html
     
  4. JohnWill

    JohnWill Retired Moderator

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    I think kiwiguy had the right idea. It's just not cost effective to scrub every trace from an existing Windows installation. DBAN will do a DOD erase of the drive, which should be sufficient.

    - Backup any important documents and other files.
    - Run DBAN with the DOD erase pattern.
    - Restore from restore disks, or reinstall Windows from a Distribution disk.
     
  5. hammer1

    hammer1

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    regardless of what you do to a hdd files and still maintained in very tiny sectors on the drive. Very expensive forensis programs and equipment like enCase have about a 75 % chance of retrieving this data.
    Two hours in a wood stove or grinding the platters(or both) would be my suggestion considering the cost of a new hdd.
    Programs like EvidenceEliminator etc actually make forensis testing and analysis easier by isolating the sectors for them.
     
  6. JohnWill

    JohnWill Retired Moderator

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    The whole point of the DOD erase pattern is to eliminate the residual data being retained. I agree that simply writing over a sector for a single pass is not sufficient to be sure the data is gone. But if the DOD erase isn't good enough, why is the DOD using it?

    Remember, this is a guy that just wants to get this stuff off the computer, I doubt he's going to have the NSA trying to recover evidence from his hard disk! :rolleyes:
     
  7. buf

    buf

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    Hey John--and thanks for the DBAN link. Have you used it? I don't worry about what is on my hard drive but it 'sounds' far easier and quicker than running anything that comes to mind. Am thinking this may be better to use when preparing for a clean install. Or am I off in my mind thinking this way? Just some thoughts.
    I have the zip of DBAN saved on a floppy with a very prominent "be careful" note on the sticker.
     
  8. JohnWill

    JohnWill Retired Moderator

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    The only real reason to use something like DBAN or KillDisk is to be SURE that nothing can be recovered. For a clean install, I've never had to do anything other than allow the 2K or XP installation procedure delete the partition and recreate it. If you feel the need, a single erase pass from the disk manufacturer's diagnostic is more than sufficient for this purpose.

    I have tried DBAN once, since I like to do that before I recommend an application. It appeared to work just fine.
     
  9. buf

    buf

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    Many thanks for your reply and passing along your experience. I agree that the method for doing a clean install the usual way with the installation disk is sufficient.
    It is comforting to know that you try an app. before passing along your suggestion.
    That is something we all benefit form on this board. Benefit greatly, I believe.
     
  10. JohnWill

    JohnWill Retired Moderator

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    I do on occasion post an application that I don't test, but it's either a really well known product, or I mention that I haven't actually tried it. :) Truth in advertising...
     
  11. buf

    buf

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    Truth I can always deal with and I thank you again. And, of course, your trial of the app. is always a big + for us.
     
  12. keltix

    keltix

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    Another fun way to destroy a HDD is the microwave.
     
  13. buf

    buf

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    You tried that? Tell us what happened to the microwave.
     
  14. JohnWill

    JohnWill Retired Moderator

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    Contrary to popular belief, a metal object in the microwave doesn't necessarily damage the microwave. The real issue is that the oven needs something that adsorbs the microwaves, and the metal doesn't do it. However, the real reason you don't want metal in the microwave is that it arcs to the metal sides of the unit. I have a GE Microwave that has a metal grate shelf that came with the unit, but it has generous plastic shelf supports to isolate it from the sides.
     
  15. buf

    buf

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    From experience, I saw and had to remove a paper plate that had caught fire in one of our microwaves. SIL had some food in it warming. The paper plate did have some type of metallic designs on it. This same microwave has a rotisserie and a heavy glass 'plate' that turns and under the 'plate' is a metal seat the the glass fits onto. I guess the glass protects the metal from the waves. No body in their right thinking mind would just simply put a metal object in such an oven. At least not mine:rolleyes:
     
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