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Hard-drives usually contain sensitive information. Even if the operating system has passwords, a user may be able to boot a different OS to access the files, or they can even take the drive out and put it in another computer to get to the files.

Some smart-phones and laptops can be set up to allow a user to remotely wipe them if they are stolen. Is there a program or something that to make a sort of dead-man's-switch whereby the contents of the drive are automatically wiped if a password or similar device is not supplied periodically? Alternately, are there special drives that can be protected like this?

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10  
Just use good encryption software. –  Daniel Beck Jun 11 '12 at 19:55
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Put the hard hard drive in a safe that is rigged to blow if someone enters the wrong combination (or have it fill with acid, or some such thing) –  soandos Jun 11 '12 at 19:59
    
@soandos: I do not want to harm no one - just make HD drives super clean=)... probably my own casing with raspberry pie's and batteries in each... just wondering if it can be done with out such modifications... –  user1078642 Jun 11 '12 at 20:04
    
@user1078642, I was joking, what you are trying to do is no possible. –  soandos Jun 11 '12 at 20:09
    
Let me just leave this article for future reference here: wwpi.com/… –  Diogo Jun 11 '12 at 20:22

3 Answers 3

You have a few options depending on the hardware and nature of the sensitive data:

  • Modern hard-drives often allow you to set a password that is required to access it. Check the BIOS of the computer/laptop to see if there is a setting for this. Alternately, check the website for the drive's manufaturer to see if there is a software tool that let's you set the password.

    This does not erase the data, but makes it sufficiently difficult and expensive to access the data that unless there is super-duper important sensitive data, it should suffice.

  • If you are using a laptop, there are services like LoJack that you can subscribe to that install special hardware and software to allow you to remotely wipe it.

  • You can encrypt the data on the drive with BitLocker (included with Windows 7 Professional and higher), TrueCrypt, or other similar disk-encryption programs. That way, the whole drive is encrypted, and even getting to the data means nothing since it is usually sufficiently difficult/expensive to crack the encryption.

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You may also read about TPM module on new devices –  drweb86 Jun 11 '12 at 21:20
    
@drweb86, I recall reading about them over a decade ago and how they are the worst thing since sliced bread. They are supposedly meant to prevent viruses and such (*cough*DEP/NX-bit*cough*) and unauthorized data access (relevant here), but most people complained that they would instead prevent users from using their computers freely (or worse), like video-game console lock-down on PCs. I have yet to see them really do anything significant one way or another (at least in actual computers; they may currently be used/useful in things like phones). –  Synetech Jun 12 '12 at 4:09
    
@Synetech TPM was just a tempest in a teapot by people who did not understand what it did. All it really is, is just a hardware module to store your private/symmetric encryption keys in a reliable way that resists tampering. Now you can use such technology to do horrible DRM (you can see how having a system to securely store your media's decryption keys would be heaven for content producers) but no-one ever did it. Now it is just used as it was intended, to store thinks like your BitLocker keys or the hash of your fingerprint for an attached reader. –  Scott Chamberlain Jun 12 '12 at 6:35
    
@Scott, exactly, there was a lot of concern over what it could be used for, but little, if any of it actually seems to have happened. I'm pretty sure it was also meant to help reduce the ability of running unwanted/unauthorized software because the TPM consortium used the reduce-viruses tagline to explain that while the foil-hat consortium used the only-their-own/paid-programs-run tagline. –  Synetech Jun 12 '12 at 15:03
    
As for BitLocker, TPM is important. Also there're some AES strength related policies in Windows, so you can improve them.... –  drweb86 Jun 14 '12 at 22:02

I know Dells and HP business laptops offer HDD Encryption that prevent the drive from turning on if the right password is not entered at boot, but I don't know of any software solutions that would do this. A software solution would require the software to be running to detect anything, and pulling a hard drive out of the host computer and putting it in another and NOT booting from the hard drive will prevent the program from running. So no, only if there is hardware level encryption; and, even then, it won't format or clean the hard drive

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A hard-drive is just a hard-drive, it cannot possess any soft skills of its own.

If you want to have clean HD, you would have to manually format it before removing it from your pc.

There is no software available upto my knowledge that has the capability of deleting the data on removing or adding HD into a PC.

For sake of privacy, there are many options available, the simplest one may be the BitLocker Encryption provided default in Windows-7, just make a partition for your private data and make that partition secure with BitLocker.

There are also options to set HDD Access password at boot time, most of the BIOS-systems have this by default.

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