February 16, 2005 4:23 PM PST

Sick of your PC? Pulverize it

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Security means business at RSA

February 18, 2005
SAN FRANCISCO--When you care enough to shred the very best, Security Engineered Machinery just might have the equipment for you.

The Westboro, Mass.-based company released two new hard disk drive degaussers--smallish boxes that completely wipe out data on hard drives and render them functionally useless--at the RSA Security Conference taking place here this week.

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Other machines sold by the company, such as the SEM DS-22 disintegrator, will physically shred drives, CDs, magnetic tape or a complete PC. Disintegration rates can go up to 1,800 pounds an hour.

The company largely markets its equipment to sensitive government agencies and others with high confidentiality requirements, said Michael Paciello, director of commercial sales. It got its start back in 1968 following the USS Pueblo Incident. The North Korean military nabbed a "fishing boat" off their waters that happened to be piloted by CIA agents. The boat was captured while documents were being thrown overboard.

Soon after, the government issued a bid for shredding equipment, he said.

"We get a lot of corporate customers too," he said. A little while ago, for instance, one large financial institution purchased a disintegrator to shred 145,000 data storage tapes. Casinos also buy them to get rid of old chips.

The Mag EraSure Professional released this week doesn't physically alter the disk itself but destroys it nonetheless. The machine exposes a hard drive to rare earth magnets for about a minute. The machine wipes out any data loaded on the drive, as well as the software loaded by the manufacturer, rendering it inoperable. Degaussers from competitors take longer when wiping out a drive, Paciello claimed.

The desk version costs about $25,000 while a mobile version, which needs a little more time to destroy a disk, costs about $20,000.

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USS Pueblo not a "fishing vessel"
...and its crew was not CIA, but US Navy. The USS Pueblo, AGER-2, was an environmental research vessel (converted supply ship) conducting signals intelligence gathering under the guise of "hydrographic research." Electronic signals are part of the environment, so it's not unfair to collect intelligence from an environmental research vessel.

The important thing is Pueblo was an all-but-unarmed US Navy ship in international waters when it was attacked and captured by North Korea.

It's surprising how little research reporters are willing to do these days.
Posted by (7 comments )
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Indeed
A quick Google search found "http://www.usspueblo.org" a site with detailed accounts of the incident. Thanks for the correction!
Posted by Andrew J Glina (1673 comments )
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