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Re: PC disk wipe software

Responding to msg by [email protected] (Brian Davis) on 
Tue, 10 Oct 10:47 AM

>FYI the Justice Department requires degaussing a hard 
>drive before it can be declared surplus ...


The Washington Post, Oct 9, 1995.

E-Mail That Comes Back And Bites. Even Deleted Messages
Can Be Recovered for Court [excerpts]

Computer sleuth John Jessen dredges computer files for
electronic embarrassments that their authors thought were
long gone. "Deleted" e-mail messages can pile up like
little time bombs until someone such as Jessen arrives,
carrying a court order and a stack of blank memory

"Can you really delete e-mail?  Sure," Jessen said. "Does
it happen as a common practice? No."

Jessen is the founder of Electronic Evidence Discovery
Inc., a Seattle company that since 1987 has been going
after computer evidence in civil lawsuits. The nation's
25 million to 40 million users of e-mail are growing more
comfortable with the medium. And more attorneys are
recognizing e-mail's potential as a source of unguarded
information about the companies they're suing.

"People are very candid talking around the coffee
machine." attorney Michael Patrick of Palo Alto, Calif.,
said. "They seem to behave the same way on the computer

"They think they're speaking confidentially, so they're
off the cuff," he said. "They're very often insulting.
What they don't realize is it's all being recorded, and
often those recordings are stored for a very long time.
When you send a message, you lose control over where it

Many workers think their e-mail is private. It's not.
Federal law allows employers to monitor employees'
e-mail, and even if they don't, e-mail is fair game in
lawsuits. When someone sues a company, the rules of
discovery demand that the company produce all relevant
business records.

"The fact that they live in a computer rather than a file
cabinet doesn't make any difference to the court," said
Joan Feldman at Computer Forensics, another Seattle firm
that specializes in this work.

Often files retrieved include e-mail thought to have been
erased long ago. It survives because the diligent
computer system manager makes backup tapes of everything
on the system every night, then stores those tapes for

And so the files persist and multiply, aided by
technological advances that continually add more storage
capacity, more automatic backups and more redundancies to
safeguard data from accidental erasure.

"The computer is like a file cabinet tbat can open its
own drawer, put a file on the copy machine and then slip
the copy into another cabinet," Jessen said. "Sometimes
I think it's alive."

Jessen and Feldman augment their high-tech detective work
by advising companies how to become less vulnerable to
computer snoops like themselves: They recommend regular
purges of old data, and they offer tips for avoiding
e-mail blunders in the first place. Rule No. 1: Don't put
anything on e-mail that you wouldn't want a jury to see.