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Tools of the week: Delete files securely on Linux

You might be asking yourself…on a Linux platform, once you delete a file, it’s gone forever.  The answer is yes and no.  If someone wanted to retrieve those deleted files, it can still be done by using high level recoverable methods and commercial techniques.

Here are some tools which can be used to delete files on your system securely and safely.

SRM – Secure RM is a command-line compatible rm(1) which destroys file contents before unlinking. The goal is to provide drop in security for users who wish to prevent command line recovery of deleted information, even if the machine is compromised.

srm is ideal for personal computers or workstations with Internet connections. It can help prevent malicious users from breaking in and undeleting personal files, such as old emails. It’s also useful for permanently removing files from expensive media. For example, cleaning your diary off the zip disk you’re using to send vacation pictures to Uncle Lou. Because it uses the exact same options as rm(1), srm is simple to use. Just subsitute it for rm whenever you want to destroy files, rather than just unlinking them.

Wipe – Wipe repeatedly writes special patterns to the file or files to be destroyed, using the fsync() call and/or the O_SYNC bit to force disk access, in order to lessen the chance of data recovery using techniques such as magnetic force microscopy.

Shred – a command line encryption tool. The Xffm file manager uses this program to encrypt and decrypt files upon user request. The application is also used to shred files before deleting.

The binary ‘shred’ should already be installed on your distribution so no need to look further for it.  Just type shred –help to get started.

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