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Data destruction

Computer forensics discussion. Please ensure that your post is not better suited to one of the forums below (if it is, please post it there instead!)
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mark777
Senior Member
 

Data destruction

Post Posted: May 24, 07 17:07

I work in LE.

In our Force we have a new Forensics manager who for some reason has sent an e mail out stating that he is aware of an incident whereby a Police Officer was stood next to a computer and used his Airwaves radio. As a result of this transmission all of the data on the computer hard drive was wiped and unrecoverable.

I have asked for specific details of this incident but as yet have received no reply from him.

I believe that he may be trying to build empires as he has stated that he believes his department should be responsible for computer and mobile phone examinations.

My question is - whilst I appreciate that radios may effect computer drives in theory has any one any knowledge of this happening especially where the whole of the drive has been wiped.

Just for info the type of questions i asked him were:

Where did this happen
When
Was it documented and if so where is it
Was this a controlled experiment and if not how did he know there was data on the computer to start with?
_________________
Mark 
 
  

AndyFox
Member
 

Re: Data destruction

Post Posted: May 24, 07 18:01

Hi Mark

I thought the Tetra Radios had to be PITO 5 certified - so as to ensure no seepage or electromagneticy could effect other equipment? - eg hard drives
_________________
Andy Fox
Digital Forensics Director
Audax Digital Forensics
www.audaxuk.com 
 
  

ddow
Senior Member
 

Re: Data destruction

Post Posted: May 24, 07 18:06

Details would be nice wouldn't they? I'm very inclined to say he heard an urban legend, so some myth buster type brainstorming might be in order. Let’s look at a possible basis for the claim.

Can hard drives be affected by magnets? Sure. Many hard drives are intentionally wiped by powerful electromagnets all the time, but the power in a radio would be insignificant in comparison. Additionally, the magnets are physically very near the drive.

The other basis for the claim would be if RF from the radio interfered with a command being sent from the CPU to the hard drive. I can think of two possible failure modes.

1) The command was a format command. This could not be caused by simple interference as format is a program, not a single command sent on the drive I/O channel. I think we can exclude that as possible at all.

2) The command caused an overwrite of the MBR or partition table. I suppose once in the history of human-kind this could happen. I’d rather bet on the lottery.

Both of these assume that RF from a radio could reach the inside of the case at a primary or harmonic frequency so to interfere with the system.

Both of these can easily be tested by experiment if we have any radio operators in the forum. Alternatively, if the guy isn’t your boss, and it’s politically safe for you to do it, challenge him to do it.
_________________
Dennis 
 
  

BitHead
Senior Member
 

Re: Data destruction

Post Posted: May 24, 07 18:51

If the radios in question create that much EMR, your officers will soon have huge tumors near their radio holsters. I cannot imagine that that would be acceptable just as I cannot imagine radios erasing HDDs (at least in normal circumstances/use).  
 
  

deckard
Senior Member
 

Re: Data destruction

Post Posted: May 24, 07 19:14

As a Ham radio operator i'd have to debunk this one. I have several radios in my shack, and many handheld ones that operate with the same wattage as police HT's, and have 3 computers that operate within inches of some. No effects.

Furthermore I have setup in the field a 2meter radio with antenna just less than foot away from a laptop computer and transmitted at 50 watts with no adverse effects.

Operate a HT in front of your television and watch the picture go haywire, but it doesn;t erase the HDD in your TiVo

Bill
_________________
Replicants are like any other machine - they're either a benefit or a hazard. If they're a benefit, it's not my problem 
 
  

nate
Member
 

Re: Data destruction

Post Posted: May 24, 07 23:16

It is possible the statement was taken out of context. The news has reported that cell phones and radio transmitters might be used for remote detonators for IED's. A half pound of C4 explosive near a hard drive would most likely wipe out all data on it if it were accidently detonated by a hand held radio. But then again accidently wiping the hard drive wouldn't be much of an issue in that case, at least to the guy with the radio
<GRIN>

Nate  
 
  

Wardy
Senior Member
 

Re: Data destruction

Post Posted: May 24, 07 23:19

- deckard
As a Ham radio operator i'd have to debunk this one. I have several radios in my shack, and many handheld ones that operate with the same wattage as police HT's, and have 3 computers that operate within inches of some. No effects.

Furthermore I have setup in the field a 2meter radio with antenna just less than foot away from a laptop computer and transmitted at 50 watts with no adverse effects.

Operate a HT in front of your television and watch the picture go haywire, but it doesn;t erase the HDD in your TiVo

Bill


A friend has just given me the same kinda answer as you. His radio is connected directly into his pc and sits on top of the pc case, which is mostly plastic. In over 6 months of use, he has never suffered data loss.

His exact response was "he must be living in the land of make believe with the pixies at the bottom of the garden".  
 

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