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Re: *nix data wipe tools
From: Gregory Gilliss <ggilliss () netpublishing com>
Date: Fri, 17 Dec 2004 10:32:31 -0800

Not meaning to start a flame war, rather a discussion of what's considered
"state of the art" for "data hygiene" (cute). I've used srm (available in
the FreeBSD ports collection and elsewhere). I'm not familiar with shred 
and wipe (Linux tools?) so perhaps those more up to date can suggest what
and why these tools (or others) are better or worse?


-- Greg

On or about 2004.12.15 02:59:44 +0000, Thomas C. Greene (thomas.greene () theregister co uk) said:

I've posted the final versions of a few simple, free shell scripts that i've 
been working on to make data hygiene more convenient on *nix systems. Thanks 
to list members who helped test them and contributed improvements.

Download them at  http://basicsec.org/tools.html  The file is called 

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 i 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 are 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 unforseen 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 

Please see the README file for caveats and a more detailed explanation.

Thanks to the courage of numerous volunteers, i can say that the scripts 
appear to work safely and effectively on a variety of Unix, BSD and Linux 

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


Gregory A. Gilliss, CISSP                              E-mail: greg () gilliss com
Computer Security                             WWW: http://www.gilliss.com/greg/
PGP Key fingerprint 2F 0B 70 AE 5F 8E 71 7A 2D 86 52 BA B7 83 D9 B4 14 0E 8C A3
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