Staying out of jail

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Staying out of jail

Postby zimbo » Sun Jun 19, 2005 12:49 pm

I am a Zimbabwean who lives both in Canada and Zimbabwe. The government in Zimbabwe is on a seriously repressive mission these days. One of the things done by the security police is to seize ones laptops and PC’s and then run software that effectively undeletes peviously deleted files. If any information is uncovered that indicates any unlawful (according to their definition of unlawful!) activity, the owner of the computer is immediately arrested and questioned “strongly” – as we say. Strong questioning in Zimbabwe makes behaviour in Guantanamo Bay look like child’s play.

Recently a guy (Christofides) who owns one of the largest horticulture business was “questioned” after his laptop was seized and investigated. The police discovered he had been involved in foreign currency transactions. It is illegal for any Zimbabwean to have or transact in foreign currencies without direct authority from the government. He will apparently be released and cleared when his family pay up US$20 million. Not only that, but in the course of their investigations, the police uncovered the emails to over 100 people who had done business with Christofides. They are now under investigation.

So, as you can imagine, we Zimbabweans need to be very careful about what is left on our laptops (just writing this message in Zimbabwe could result in my arrest!), and I am looking for any assistance, advice etc that will allow me to be certain that deleted files and messages are completely purged from my PC.

In particular, I am very keen to know what happens to the messages that are emptied from the Deleted Files folder in Outlook. After deleting a whole bunch of files and then emptying the folder I have noticed that the size of the PST file has not changed – perhaps indicting that the data is still there. Any comments?
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Staying Out of Jail

Postby Del » Tue Jun 21, 2005 11:54 pm

Until someone who really knows this stuff chimes in, it would seem to me that the only way you can be sure whatever technology the gov't has can't retreive data, regardless of the method used to purge your drive, is to destroy the drive absolutely. Obviously, simple deletion won't work, and highly technical means are available to retreive even high tech erasing software techniques. If something is there, and the gov't wants to find it, they will find it. I wouldn't take a chance at all here in the US of trying to outfox the technology we may not even have heard about.

Just FWIW

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Postby rdulaneyjr » Wed Jun 22, 2005 1:42 pm

I agree with Del.

There are technologies we can only dream about that are not dreams but fact to governments and their officials. Data can be retrieved after being erased and written over the best way to make it hard to retrieve data from your hard drive is to drill 3 holes in it and drop it in the deepest part of the ocean - it is still recoverable but this method is very hard and costly.

Bob
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The devil and the deep blue sea

Postby zimbo » Wed Jun 22, 2005 5:23 pm

Thanks for the suggestions, but disposing of one's computer is not really an option, unless there's pounding at the door. We still have to run our businesses, communicate with friends and family etc. Also, the skill of the Zim govt is probably not anywhere near what you in North America would be used to. Our GNP is probably a fractions of Wyoming's (no offense to the blue sky folk), a policeman gets a salary of about US$300 a month, and only 5% of them have ever been registered at a university.

I am using Cleanup, and seriously impressed with its ease of use, speed and thoroughness, the friendliness and knowledge of the forum (well most of its members - I have to smile at complaints like the format of the time, because this is NOT a real issue, believe you me). I have found a couple of programs that do "free space" and "deleted files" removal, and will just hope that is enough.
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Postby rdulaneyjr » Wed Jun 22, 2005 8:45 pm

Steve has a VERY good . . .no EXCELENT program and has gone to great lengths to protect our privacy and all for free too - I don't believe you’ll find a better program even if you pay for one - surely won't find a better price!
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Postby sgould » Wed Jun 22, 2005 9:25 pm

zimbo,

Have you looked at the "Fully Erase Files (Wipe Clean)" option in CleanUp!? Or check out the following FAQs:

Can the files be retrieved after CleanUp! has deleted them?

How can I be sure the files cannot be retrieved?

These, combined with the Wipe Clean option - see the CleanUp! Help file for details - may be what you are looking for.

Steve
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Thanks, over and out

Postby zimbo » Fri Jun 24, 2005 12:05 pm

Many thanks. You have made a bunch of us much happier, and hopefully my colleagues will follow my suit in the donation line.

Wipe Clean is very effective in removing access to the deleted files - I tried a number of undelete options and not one has resurrected anything.

Unfortunately it is not going to work effectively on large files, and that is how we need to clear free space. I created a 500meg file called ***SPAM***.tmp, and it took Cleanup over an hour and seven minutes to complete. So, to use Cleanup to clear the 50 gig free-space on my laptop would take about 4 days.

I recall meeting one of the original Unix development team at a seminar and clearly remember him saying "Unix has a very simple philosophy for each of its commands: do one thing, and only one thing, but do it exceptionally well". Steve, you have developed a product which cleans up small files, exceptionally well. I need to find another tool or mechanism that cleans up the free space left by FAT and and NTFS - hopefully to the same high standard.

Your moderator is concerned that my topic is way off course, and rather than risk banning, I'd like to close off this thread. Thanks again.
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