Sticker: DRILL HERE TO DESTROY HARD DRIVE

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57 Responses to “Sticker: DRILL HERE TO DESTROY HARD DRIVE”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I thought true paranoid computer users always have a big electo-magnet handy.

  2. Anonymous says:

    “In case of emergency, ignite thermite here”

  3. nanuq says:

    Unfortunately, if the jackbooted thugs happen to be working for any arm of the government, you can be ordered to hand over your encryption key. Refusing to do that or destroying your hard drive can get you charged with Obstructing Justice.

    • Anonymous says:

      And this is what the hidden OS or hidden volume features of TrueCrypt are for.

    • mccrum says:

      Well then, as in the case of others today, I’d simply say that I could not remember and then have someone hit me with a pie. Freedom!

    • dudemanguy says:

      @nanuq (of the north?): Perhaps you’re in the UK. But here in the states there is still that pesky 5th Amendment where you don’t have to incriminate yourself. And even if the prosecution were to try and charge you when the judge asks if you understand the charge you say “no”. The prosecution is now in the unenviable position of having to explain how the 5th Amendment doesn’t say what it says. It’s called a “Reversible Error”. So, here anyway, I don’t think your notion of “Obstruction of Justice” is going to fly. I may very well be mistaken but I’m not aware of any cases that have successfully used that approach.

      • Anonymous says:

        Cops are pulling out OOJ on people for saying “why” when they get arrested. The 4th Amendment has been bashed to death by Judges since the Patriot Act 2 was passed. You can get OOJ for standing and filming an arrest from 50ft away. They hate us and it’s official.

      • semiotix says:

        But here in the states there is still that pesky 5th Amendment where you don’t have to incriminate yourself. And even if the prosecution were to try and charge you when the judge asks if you understand the charge you say “no”. The prosecution is now in the unenviable position of having to explain how the 5th Amendment doesn’t say what it says.

        Huh?

        When the judge asks you that at the arraignment and you say “no,” the judge will explain the charge, once. Maybe twice if he or she is feeling extraordinarily patient. Then when you say, “I still don’t understand, Your Honor,” the judge will say, “Well, your lawyer will answer any further questions for now. I’ll enter a plea of not guilty for you and order a psychiatric evaluation. Next case.”

        You can keep pretending you don’t understand all the way through your trial, but at some point the judge will just have you removed and possibly cite you for contempt. (Or, if you’re really good, committed to a mental institution.) In any event it doesn’t have anything to do with your Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.

        You may be referring to the popular theory (at least, popular in crypto-libertarian circles–not so popular in courts) that a decryption password is “testimony” that can’t be compelled, rather than the informational equivalent of a safe key (which nobody thinks the government can’t legally compel a criminal defendant to surrender). Judging from the cases that turn up when you search for that, I wouldn’t want to rely on that theory to keep me out of jail.

        • dudemanguy says:

          Well since you seem to be confused let me help you out.
          JD: “Do you understand the charge?”
          ME: “No sir. I do not.”
          JD: “Well.. then I suppose you’ll have to have your lawyer explain it to you”.
          ME: “The 6th Amendment says quite clearly that I have the right to be informed of the letter and nature of the charge. As a matter of 5th and 14th Amendment procedural and substantive due process, the bench has a duty to answer the question”.
          JD: “Ok.. so what don’t you understand?”
          ME: “The 5th Amendment quite clearly says that I need not aid any agent of the government in obtaining or gathering evidence that would incriminate me. Can you explain to me how turning over my encryption key is not in violation of that fundamental Constitutional right?”.

          So does that clear things up for you? It isn’t a trick. Article 5 says I need not cooperate. And that includes turning over my encryption key. So now, on the court reporters record, and available for appellate review, is a valid objection to the proceedings of the court as set forth in either the rules for criminal or civil procedure(I’m obviously thinking criminal in this instance). It’s the duty of the court to make the charge plain. It’s also the duty of the court to make clear the nature of the charge. If the court can’t or won’t do that then that’s a procedural error that can and likely will overturn any verdict the jury returns assuming it isn’t grounds for a mistrial(which it would likely be). It would at the very least give an appellate court attorney a massive woody.
          There are other, numerous, questions that court won’t want to answer. And if you’re smart enough to ask them you can torpedo the process before it even gets started. Lastly, you appear to have an extremely poor understanding of what the 5th Amendment says. I doesn’t apply only to testimony.

          • semiotix says:

            I think it would go a little more like this. Let’s assume the judge has already explained the charge once, but not to your “understanding.”

            JD: [Now] “Do you understand the charge?”
            ME: “No sir. I do not.”
            JD: “Do you mean you don’t understand the charge, or you don’t understand how you could possibly be guilty?”
            ME: “I mean I want to talk about how the 5th Amendment quite clearly says that I need not aid any agent of the government…”
            JD: “That’s a matter for trial. Do you understand what I was just saying about the charge?”
            ME: “But Your Honor, I want to instruct you about your duties under the 6th Amendment, and to do that you have to understand why I couldn’t possibly be found guilty since my understanding of the 5th Amendment says that…”
            JD: “That’s not something we’re going to talk about during an arraignment.”
            ME: “Let’s get back to the business of the hard drive. Can you explain to me how turning over my encryption key is not in violation of that fundamental Constitutional right?”
            JD: “Probably not to your satisfaction. I’m citing you for contempt.”
            ME: “Your Honor. Contempt is defined as any word or deed that brings about disgrace or discredit upon the court. Can you explain to me… hey, not so fast my good man, I was just explaining to the judge over here how you can’t take me to jail until he’s adequately explained himself… hey, now, listen, my purely voluntary tax-donations pay for those handcuffs, so perhaps now you have to explain why this egregious violation of my Fourth and Eighth Amendment rights is…”

            Don’t get me wrong. As I said above, there might be something to the whole Fifth Amendment argument against compelling someone to turn over their encryption keys. Right now, in the absence of a SC or broadly applicable appellate court ruling, prosecutors seem to have an easier time winning those arguments, but eventually it’ll be settled law one way or the other.

            But man oh man, one day you’re going to send some judge home from work with a big old smile on her face. Please, for the sake of judicial morale, when and if you find yourself in front of a judge, please be your internet self. For the sake of the Constitution, do not under any circumstances take any guff from them!

          • tsdguy says:

            You left off the last line in your argument:

            JD: Defendant is cited for contempt. Jail him INDEFINITELY until he changes his mind.

            You’re in jail for years unless you get a higher judge to respond to a writ of Habeas Corpus or until your case gets to the SCOTUS.

            @semiotix Sorry, degauss loop seems very impractical. The level of gauss needed to disrupt the magnetic domains on a hard disk platter is pretty high. And since level of gauss is inverse in proportion to distance, you’re talking magnetic levels probably higher than an MRI.

            And of course SSD renders this meaningless…

          • dudemanguy says:

            @tsdguy:
            ME: “Your Honor. Contempt is defined as any word or deed that brings about disgrace or discredit upon the court. Can you explain to me how my inquiry into the nature of the charge is anything other than completely consistent with the constitutional guidelines established for this jurisdiction? And if Contempt is defined as any action which reflects poorly upon the court why aren’t you holding yourself in contempt for refusing to address a Constitutional issue that is now before the court?”.
            So yeah… I might spend a day or 2 in jail. But I think you’ve been watching a bit too much tv.

        • Don says:

          “Keeping my data secure” is a separate goal from “keeping myself out of prison.”

          If they are already kicking down your door, “keeping myself out of prison” might be an unrealistic goal, whether they have legal justification or not. (Nor will the freshly-drilled computer do anything to make them less suspicious.)

          • semiotix says:

            Oh, I know. I just like the comic possibilities inherent in the door-electromagnet.

            “We’ve got you now, scumbag! Frank, this hard drive is the smoking gun. Take it to the lab.”
            “You’ve got nothing, copper! Watch as I press this seemingly harmless button and your so-called evidence melts away in a maelstrom of electro-magnetic chaos!”
            *THUMP*
            “Didn’t Frank just get a pacemaker put in?”

        • retchdog says:

          US lawyers explain it to me as being analogous to the _combination_ of a safe (not a key), which they claim has substantial case law as being protected testimony. they also claim that the higher courts are establishing more and more precedent that passphrase=testimony, and it just hasn’t filtered down to the lower levels yet…

    • Cowicide says:

      That’s what AK-74Ms are for.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I seem to remember the early Grid Compass laptops having a target cast (not moulded, cast) into their cases for exactly this purpose…

  5. Anonymous says:

    The govt. can get data off tiny chunks of hard drive platters. This wouldn’t actually work.

  6. tincansongbird says:

    The sticker would probably appeal to the bumper sticker crowd. It’s funny, but I wouldn’t stick it on my computer.

    BTW, folks, TrueCrypt is still free.

  7. obeyken says:

    Of course as a backup I have a powerful electromagnet installed in every door frame.

  8. Rider says:

    Drilling through the center spindle on a hard drive is a pretty bad way to try to destroy the data on it.

  9. remmelt says:

    How would that work for SSDs? The drill will probably only hit a couple of the memory chips, leaving the rest readable with some effort.

  10. amanicdroid says:

    Cute idea but disk surfaces require annihilation or degaussing. Even if a portion of the surface is drilled through most data is recoverable. That’s why gov installations buy disk shredders like these http://www.ameri-shred.com/Hard_Drive_Shredder.html (not advertising, was the first valid link I found). Here’s one in technicolor and stereo! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yd_O7-rqcHc

  11. Moriarty says:

    Drills? Bullets? Thermite?

    Do you guys all have heavily armored, stomp-proof laptops or something?

    • zyodei says:

      I don’t know about you, but I was just examining a Macbook Air yesterday..and I remember commenting that, in comparison, I could bludgen someone over the head with my laptop, and I don’t think it would be much worse for the wear.

  12. PJDK says:

    While a bit of paranoia is all good fun, and there are places in the world where being an artist who is critical of the government can lead to some serious problems (not looking at any emerging superpowers in particular), is there some genuine problem here that has completely passed me by?

    I’m sure someone will point me at kettling of some variety, but I’m referring to freedom of expression here. What could possibly be on the hard drive that would be kick down the door worthy?

    For that matter what is on the hard drive that won’t eventually be published?

    As a fun aside I’ve seen the inability to keep a crypto key private criticised before. I have yet to see much outrage that these powers are being used against our leading press baron.

    I’m sure you’d all be praising him to the heavens if he’d had the forethought to embed some thermite in his email back up servers.

    • amanicdroid says:

      Remixes using unauthorized material are an example.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXnO_FxmHes this is a video that could have been prosecuted for multiple counts of unauthorized sampling/use of 1 video & 1 song. If you’re in a country like Thailand, criticizing the king is jail time.

      Does that sufficiently answer your question?

      • PJDK says:

        Being a civil matter remixing isn’t enforced by jackbooted thugs of any variety.

        I’m not quite sure where the law stands but I’m fairly sure it’s the publishing that would make this illegal anyhow (murky old fair dealings).

        But we can bring this into the real world. Right now jackbooted thugs are going through the hard drives of a Mr R Murdoch. Does anyone want to make a case that he should have a 5th amendment right to not disclose any passwords on those drives?

        • caitifty says:

          “Right now jackbooted thugs are going through the hard drives of a Mr R Murdoch. Does anyone want to make a case that he should have a 5th amendment right to not disclose any passwords on those drives?”

          Well, now that you mention it, yes. Or I would if he was in a jurisdiction where the US constitution is actually part of the law of the land. Murdoch is a piece of shit, and the idea of him having a big fall makes me very happy, but if we’re going to start saying the 5th doesn’t apply in cases where the person is an asshole or has been charged with something everyone finds reprehensible (terrorists, child pornographers etc), *who gets to make that decision*? I’d rather it apply to absolutely everyone and be sure it’s going to apply to me than start on some slippery slope of ‘except when the crime is X’.

          • PJDK says:

            Well I’m impressed your willing to stand up for it, but would this not abolish taxation and fraud law.

            “Hi I’m here to audit your tax returns”

            “well our accounts are on those encrypted drives over there”

            “curse you Crypto!”

          • dudemanguy says:

            @PJDK: Here’s the trouble you get into with that. Out in the 5th Circuit, in order to maintain the “integrity” of the tax code the federal circuit court has ruled that “income taxes” are both direct and indirect taxes. There is no 3rd class. Such a ruling is mutually exclusive on its face. It has also ruled that no 5th Amendment violation occurs b/c filing the return is VOLUNTARY. So here is a prime example of the lengths the court will go to in order to keep the tax code in place. They simply say the return is filed voluntarily. But if you don’t volunteer.. it’s your ass.
            So it’s actually quite astute of you to bring the tax code into this. It shows that Alice in Wonderland logic will be used to evaluate the law if it’s “inconvenient”. So now we have a ruling at the appellate level that says “income taxes are both direct and indirect taxes”. And from that you can derive pretty much anything you care to.

  13. benher says:

    Just use microwave fished out of your neighbors trash heap after he defaults on his mortgage and the bank’s unibrows show up to do a “trash-out.”

    MMMmmmhurika! Sea to shinin’ purple sea!!

  14. Anonymous says:

    You could also build a grenade primer into the laptop. Pull the pin and the primer charge (if placed right) could do a bit o’ damage to your drive. Might look pretty cool with the spoon and pin sticking out.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Why do I see that as a great idea for a tattoo should one decide to have a tattoo on one’s skull?

    =P

  16. Anonymous says:

    Thermite will solve that issue much more thoroughly and with a much more exciting display. ;b

  17. Marky says:

    Thermite!

    • Don says:

      Thermite is awesome, but you’d have to keep your thermite (and matches, and a magnesium fuse) with the computer. Also it works pretty slow. And there’d be molten iron on your bedroom floor, the floor upon which the jackbooted thugs are about to throw you down.

  18. nixiebunny says:

    A big nail might work as well, if you can find a hammer quickly.

    By the way, drilling any part of the platter will make the data not quite impossible to recover, but much more difficult. You can no longer spin the drive to get the data off it. If it’s glass, it is likely to shatter, making the job that much harder.

    You’d have to do magnetic domain scanning and piece all the bits back together. Heck, I don’t even know if they do that. Seems very expensive.

    • Ronald Pottol says:

      Laptop drives have been glass for over a decade now, and I wouldn’t be surprised if desktops were by now.

      And sure, the NSA can recover data from the shattered pieces of your drive, but are they really going to spend those kind of resources on you? It would be insanely expensive, once you had the tools built for this, to do it for a disk, even with just a bullet hole, let alone a bunch of pieces of glass.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I know the comments here are addressing much more important issues, but why drill through the screen? wouldn’t that sticker be better placed on the palm rest?

  20. travtastic says:

    I think the more elegant solution is to not have your incriminating evidence stored on a big, clunky computer that’s hard to secure. Buy a tiny flash stick, run Ubuntu off of it. In case of emergency, swallow evidence. Hell, you’d probably spend more money on a drill.

    • amanicdroid says:

      That’s an interesting idea for a text based project. An Android device with fullsize keyboard input is all one would need and the system would be easily destroyed compared to a hard drive. As for video and image editing a more powerful system with faster data read/writes than SD/flash is necessary but isn’t that far away.

      • travtastic says:

        Speed is always an issue with flash, but the major advantage is that you’re booting from external storage, so they can have a field day with your actual machine. Without the external OS the only thing they would be able to find is that you have USB as your first-priority boot method in BIOS (which is hardly incriminating, of course).

  21. Anonymous says:

    On quite a few U.S. military radios there is a little symbol to indicate the precise spot one would shoot the radio to permanently zero out the crypto key if the need arise.
    I also heard of a few people who had the before mentioned symbol tattooed upon the backs of their heads, for emergencies.

    • dw_funk says:

      Please note that I have tried to search for this picture and only end up back at this thread. I would very much enjoy seeing the place on US Army radios where you aim your gun when you need to hide the crypt/decrypt mechanism. I need a silly, nihilistic tattoo.

  22. Don says:

    I was a presenter at a security conference once, where one of the other presenters claimed to be from some military intelligence agency, and claimed to have extracted data from disk platters that had been shot with bullets. He also showed a picture of a disk that had been cut up with pinking shears, and claimed to have pulled data off there as well. So depending on the kind of jackbooted thug that’s kicking down the door, the drill may not work even if you put a hole in the disk.

    There may other, practical problems. Am I really going to keep both the laptop and the drill within reach of my bed?

    My Truecrypt partitions are unmounted when I shut down the computer, so I can be reasonably confident that my data is secure even if the bad guys get to my data before I do. Sure, they might charge me with obstruction if I don’t give up the passphrase, but then they make that charge stick even more easily if I drill holes in the evidence, so it doesn’t seem like much of a drawback.

    Love the degaussing-loop-in-the-doorway trick, even though I see myself accidentally erasing my computer in the first week.

    • semiotix says:

      Love the degaussing-loop-in-the-doorway trick, even though I see myself accidentally erasing my computer in the first week.

      As popularized in Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon, although IIRC it was rendered obsolete in the book by a volunteer army of hacker-wizards setting off an EMP. So that’s obviously another way to go, if you have the means. You can get those at Fry’s, right?

  23. pjcamp says:

    On a Mac, that’s probably a license violation.

    But I’m thinking this would look totally awesome on a bicycle helmet.

  24. kmoser says:

    I think my laptop sticker should be enough to dissuade anybody from messing with it, regardless of what side of the law they’re on.

  25. OoerictoO says:

    when that laptop is open the sticker is in the wrong place.

    for those talking about hidden volumes and crypto, that only works if the drive is unmounted when the “jackbooted thugs” get there. otherwise they can take the machine while it’s running.

    i’m not sure about you, but i don’t unmount my secret data every time someone knocks on the door, and i doubt i would remember to if they said it was the police with a warrant.

  26. Garst says:

    A true technophile doesn’t need a sticker.

  27. angusm says:

    Really, who has time to drill?

    Lasers or bullets are the tool of choice for the truly paranoid computer owner.

    • relawson says:

      Maybe “Perforate Here” would be better and it would cover a very wide range of methods :)

    • phisrow says:

      Unless you have a very powerful laser, a Harbor Freight cheapie with a $2 carbide bit will do the job a great deal faster…

      A jacketed round works as well(a lower-velocity unjacketed one will, depending on the make and model of laptop, possibly surprise you by failing to work); but you don’t really want to give Johnny Jackboots the excuse he craves to riddle your corpse with holes do you?

      • Editz says:

        “…you don’t really want to give Johnny Jackboots the excuse he craves to riddle your corpse with holes do you?”

        If I’m already a corpse I don’t think I’d care what they do.

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