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Use Extreme Caution with HCL

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Dissolving Hard Drives in Hydrocloric Acid Part 1

Posted on 30 August 2012 by Total Secure Shredding

Howdy Folks,

A few months ago I got an email from Christian that went into great detail about how to dissolve hard drives in Hydrochloric Acid.

I for one think shredding hard drives and then recycling the materials is a much better way to go, but in any event, if you’re interested messing around with acid, here’s how you go about doing it.

Disclaimer: I don’t recommend doing this and I hope that by posting this, and by showing the potential dander, nobody will give it a try. As you’ll read, you need to Personal Protective Gear and you will be producing extremely hazardous Hydrogen gas. Not to mention dealing with a highly corrosive chemical.

Side Note: FYI… Shredding hard drives doesn’t required Personal Protective Gear, doesn’t great Hydrogen Gas, and doesn’t involve the handling of corrosive chemicals.

But on with the show…

Greetings.

I am writing with a few comments and observations on dissolving hard drives in HCL or hydrochloric acid.

First of all, the stuff is relatively easy to find.  Any Lowes, Home Depot, garden/pool/spa/home improvement store should carry it in quarts, half or whole gallons.  You might also want to ask for muriatic acid, which is the same thing.  The best thing to buy would naturally be the most concentrated, which they usually sell at between 30 and 32% or so.

Granted, you want to be damned careful with the stuff [my emphasis added], as I can say from experience that it burns like hell if the concentrated acid gets on your skin, especially if you have a cut…  Anyway, you don’t need a space suit to handle it.

Though I have never destroyed a hard drive with it, here is what I would do, based on my knowledge of and experience with this corrosive substance.

FYI, you can also find similar info on line, though perhaps not as detailed.  If you destroy a hard drive in acid, I’d recommend putting the drive in something either heavy duty plastic, or glass if you have a jar that big.  The reaction will cause a certain amount of heat as the acid reacts with the metals and creates hydrogen gas, and you don’t want your vessel melting on you, for obvious reasons.

You will also want to perform this exercise in either an outdoor or very open or well ventilated indoor environment.

The first thing to do is put on protective clothing, namely long sleeves, rubber/plastic gloves and a respirator, if you actually have one.  If not, take a big breath like you would if diving underwater, look away from the container and open the acid bottle.  If possible, hold the breath while pouring the acid into the container.  If not, breathe with the mouth away from the container of acid, as the fumes smell god awful and will irritate in small amounts.

I would recommend putting the drive in the container BEFORE the acid to reduce the possibility of spillage.  Anyway, once you’ve got your drive in a jar and are pouring the acid, it would be best to not get your face or body over the container in case the reaction is more violent than expected, which acid reactions can be at times.  Fill the jar enough to cover the drive with a bit to spare, and let sit for a few hours.  I’d say leave overnight, but one should probably watch this stuff and not let it sit.

I would NOT recommend closing the jar or container, as the reaction will produce highly flammable and potentially explosive hydrogen gas, the same thing that blew up the Hindenburg.

You can either wait for the acid to eat into the drive casing and begin corroding the platters, or you could do what I will do when the time comes.  Open the drive by removing the screws and/or rivets in the case itself, leaving the platters exposed and ready to be eaten by hungry acid.

Anyway, that’s my two cents or so on destroying hard drives with acid.  Have fun, stay safe and be well.

Very Exciting Indeed!

Again, I highly don’t recommend doing this unless you have extensive experience doing this sort of thing. After all, I don’t know who Christian really is so he may be an experienced chemist or a complete psychopath.

In Part II of this experiment, Christian fills us in on how to dispose of what remains after the hard drive is dissolved.

Talk to you then… Your friend,

Mike
Head Shredding Guy

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Best Shredding Service San Diego – Happy Customer

Posted on 15 August 2011 by Total Secure Shredding

A happy customer sent this to me the other day via email. He came down to our facility to drop off some documents for shredding and apparently he was happy with the service :-)

As you know, on occasion I come across someone or some business that provides good service and is worth telling others about. I am just as quick to spread the word on crappy service so it seems only fair and I usually send out more of the good ones.

As we prepare for moving we have been going through a lot of document boxes, sifting through the tons of paper that are stored up and separating the “must keep” (like a car certificate of title from a car my dad owned in the 1941) from the “we’ve kept this long enough let’s get rid of it” (like account statements from an account now closed for 15 years).

We have a small shredder at home we use for the day-to-day stuff but this moving process generated six trash bags filled with documents and one with CDs. Obviously, sitting at our little shredder getting rid of this stuff for identity and security purposes would be a painfully long process. We went to Total Secure Shredding near the sports arena. I dropped off all the bags and off they went into the shredder. They price stuff by the “paper box” units. I eyeballed the bags to probably five boxes. They said I was wrong. Well, they didn’t say it they just charged me for the four boxes they estimated.  It cost me $15.84 to shred stuff that would have taken me a week at home.

They have a variety of price structures depending on the type of shredding you want (strip cut or cross-cut for the truly paranoid) and on the quantity. They offer mobile service if you don’t want to drop off, and even do office service where they drop off containers and pick them up on a monthly or whatever basis. They even shred computer hard drives!

So, if you need some shredding and the quantity is more than your little table top shredder can handle this is definitely a good place. Fast, cheap, and reliable. If you are a first-time customer you can get an on-line discount coupon by registering on their non-information sharing web site (they won’t sell your email to Wal-Mart). Ah yes,  the place is run by a veteran.

- Nate from San Diego

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10 Identity Fraud Prevention Tips

Posted on 02 August 2010 by Total Secure Shredding

Hey Folks,

Mike Here…

Identity Fraud (also commonly known as Identity Theft), is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States that affected more than 11 million adults in 2009.

We are talking about a crime that totals $54 Billion annually.

That’s not “Chump Change” but there are some very simple precautions you can take in order to greatly reduce your chances of becoming a victim of I.D. Theft.

Here are 10 tips I put together to help you protect yourself, your family, and your business from the dangers of I.D. Fraud:

  1. Properly shred or otherwise destroy all old bank statements, cancelled checks, old tax returns and other documents containing sensitive personal information prior to disposing of them. Personal information you should be on the lookout for is an individual’s First Name, or First Initial and Last Name linked with any of the following data elements:
    1. Social Security Number
    2. Driver’s License number or State Identification Card Number
    3. Account Number or Credit or Debit Card Number, in combination with any required security code, access code, or password that would permit access to an individual’s financial account.
  2. Be extremely cautions of anyone calling and asking to verify your information. Even if the person says they are from your bank, utility company, or other service provider. The safest bet is to not provide any information (especially social security and credit card or bank account numbers) and tell the person you’ll call them back using the phone number that is listed on a previous statement, invoice, or other correspondence. If the person on the phone gets upset and tries to push the issue, hang up immediately.
  3. When recycling electronics, make sure they have been properly sanitized before disposal. This includes computer hard drives and other memory capable devices such as smart phones.
  4. Do not email sensitive personal information (including credit card information). Most email is not encrypted and can be accessed if the sending or receiving computer has been breached by “Malware” (Trojans or Key Logging Software).
  5. Do not keep sensitive passwords and account information on your computer, laptop, or phone unless they have been properly secured. One free program you can use to securely store this type of information is “Keypass” http://keepass.info/
  6. Never give out your ATM PIN to anyone… Not even to close friends or relatives. Once you give your PIN away you are basically authorizing that person to have free access to your account. At that point, there’s not much that can be done if that person decides to take more than originally planned.
  7. Be cautious about online shopping. Only shop with recognized vendors that have good on-line reputations with proven secure websites. One thing to look for is that the webpage you’re putting your credit card information on has been encrypted. Once you get as far as putting in your credit card information, take a look in the website address window and make sure the website is prefaced by https. The “S” in “HTTPS” stands for secure and ensures a SSL/TLS protocol is in place to provide encryption so that no “eavesdropper” or “man-in-the-middle” can intercept your credit card information.
  8. Install an antivirus and malware software on each of your computers. A good antivirus program is called “Avast.” You can download a free version of at http://www.avast.com/lp-upgrade-4-5-free#. If you’re looking for a Malware program, checkout a program called “MalwareBytes”. Learn more about MalwareBytes and download a free version at http://www.malwarebytes.org/. And Finally, one of the best methods for preventing unauthorized access to your computer is to Update, Update, Update. It’s critical that you make sure all your software has been updated. Many times, these updates patch potential vulnerabilities hackers are using to access your computer.
  9. Review monthly checking, savings, and credit cards statements for unauthorized transactions. Even a relatively small monthly transaction can add up over many months or years.
  10. Perform an annual review your credit reports from the three credit reporting agencies so see if any unauthorized lines of credit have been opened. The Fair Credit Reporting Act guarantees you can access your credit report free of charge every 12 months from each of the three credit reporting agencies – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion (read more at http://www.ftc.gov/freereports). The ONLY authorized site to get your free credit reports is www.annualcreditreport.com.

Feel free to comment below about any tips you may have that can help prevent I.D. Fraud.

Until Next Time…

Keep Totally Secure,

Mike

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FREE Hard Drive Eraser

Posted on 17 July 2010 by Total Secure Shredding

Hey Folks,

A few weeks ago I was on a radio talk show talking about the importance of shredding documents and keeping your electronic information (Computer Hard Drives for example) secure.

After the show, I received a forwarded email from one of the radio show hosts where a listener mentioned that there are free hard drive “Eraser” programs that will securely erase your hard drive.

So, in the best of interest of my readers, current customers, and potential customers, here is the link to a FREE Hard Drive Eraser program called, appropriate enough, “ERASER”.

http://eraser.heidi.ie/

CAUTION: I have not used this program nor have I ever spoken with anyone who has ever used it. As such, I can’t advocate this product as an effective method of eliminating data from a hard drive prior to final hard drive disposal.

Also, there is something else you should keep in mind.

  • This program does not erase hard drives. Rather, it overwrites the current information on your hard drive several times with useless information that renders all your important data unreadable.
  • This program only works with Microsoft Windows operating systems (I’m sure there’s something else that works for Macs and other operating systems)
  • You must be able to get on the Internet, download this program, install it on the computer hard drive you want to “erase”, and then use it to “erase” files. This could be a problem if your computer is no longer operable but the hard drive is still intact.
  • From time to time, one or more areas of a hard drive cannot have information recorded on it. If the defect in this area of the hard drive occurred after information was already recorded, this software would not be able to “erase” the pre-existing data.
  • This is not something that you can just download, run, and all the info on your hard drive is gone. Since it is a program located on the hard drive you want to use it on, it won’t be able to overwrite itself or the necessary components of the operating system it is also using.

So how would this program be useful?

The problem with simply deleting files on your computer is that they are not really deleted. Your computer just marks the space where that file was located on the hard drive as available for saving new files. Consequently, all the information you feel is deleted is in fact still on the hard drive and can be retrieved with digital forensic software.

This program, instead of deleting a file, would allow you to “erase” it by overwriting that file multiple times making your data forever unreadable. So this program would seem to be an effective tool to use when deleting sensitive files located on a working hard drive that you wouldn’t want anyone else looking at.

But as far as disposing of no longer needed hard drives… probably not a great solution.

However, if you’ve had good success with this program or other programs like it, I would love to hear your feedback. Just leave a comment on this blog and then we can open this matter up for discussion.

Until next time.

Keep Totally Secure,

Mike

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