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I have an old Sony Vaio laptop, which I have previously used to store sensitive data (cryptographic private keys of certain value). Now I am not using the laptop and I will store it, sell it or give it away.

I have already removed the old hard drive. Is that enough to ensure that the private keys cannot be found or would I also need to do something about BIOS, RAM, etc?

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    yeah, there are no private keys in the BIOS/UEFI. And RAM gets wiped any time the computer is shutdown or restarted. – barlop Jun 11 '18 at 4:16
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    The hard drive would be the only part containing your data. However, the buyer would have no way of verifying that the laptop works without it. If it's a local buyer, you could stick the drive back in just to show that it boots and runs, then remove it. – fixer1234 Jun 11 '18 at 4:17
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    @fixer1234 or he could put a different hard drive in if he wants to demonstrate something to the user, but i'm sure he can figure that out – barlop Jun 11 '18 at 4:18
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Yes, it is enough. Private keys were stored in your hard drive.

As @barlop stated: "yeah, there are no private keys in the BIOS/UEFI. And RAM gets wiped any time the computer is shutdown or restarted."

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If you are paranoid enough you would also do something about the RAM. It is a know strategy of some viruses to survive in RAM and reinfect the system after a reboot. In other words, data may persist on the RAM despite a system shutdown.

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    Could you give some sources? – Toto Jun 11 '18 at 10:21
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    The RAM content disappears quickly (minutes). The methods of recovering or reusing RAM content rely on repowering within seconds and avoiding any form of RAM testing or scrambling, or freezing the RAM, physically transferring it, and reading it within minutes. If the laptop has sat powered off for days, there is nothing recoverable in the RAM. But if you're paranoid, just run a RAM test for one cycle. – fixer1234 Jun 11 '18 at 21:11

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