SSD Security Issues Surprise Experts

A study finds that erasing data stored on SSDs can be difficult, and at times nearly impossible.

Until the results of a study emerged late last month, few storage experts suspected that it would be more difficult to erase data stored on solid-state drives than it would be to erase data from hard disk drives.

"I don't think anyone ever knew about this," said Bruce Schneier, chief security technology officer at BT Group and author of multiple books on data security issues.

Other industry experts acknowledged that they were also taken aback by the findings of researchers at the University of California, San Diego. However, they mostly agreed that some SSD sanitation methods can be more successful than others.

For example, some noted that SSDs with native encryption capabilities can generally prevent data from being accessed, even after a drive's end of life.

The study found that fully erasing data stored on SSDs is at best a difficult task and at worst nearly impossible. While overwriting data several times can ensure data erasure on many SSDs, the researchers found that they were still able to recover data on some overwritten drives.

The UCSD researchers tested 12 SSDs and found that none of the available software techniques for erasing individual files was fully effective.

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