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Home » Hacking News » iPod unsafe

iPod unsafe

by Nikola Strahija on January 28th, 2006 Hard drive iPods tend to keep your data, even after you've erased it.

With iPods reaching 60 GB of storage room, it becomes silly not to use them for storing data and carrying it with you wherever you go. You can put pictures, unfinished projects and, yes, sensitive work documents on your iPod and take your work home, bypassing insecure means of transmission.

Once you're done you simply erase the data and you're done. Wrong. According to a study by Christopher V. Marsico and Marcus K. Rogers named 'iPod forensics', Apple has constructed the hard drive iPods to keep your data, even long after you've erased it.

The study has shown that iPods will show most of the erased data, complete with the computer's name, user's name and most of the data stored and deleted: -It appears that the iPod stores information using the entire disk from beginning to end before returning to the beginning to store information again in areas that may have been deleted. It is possible the iPod is using a technique similar to “wear leveling,” which helps prevent one area of the disk from being used more often then the rest and possibly getting worn out, says the study.

Although customer manual says that the full system restore should completely delete data, this has proven to be false. Not even reformatting the iPod from MAC to Windows friendly doesn't delete files: -It was found that information could be recovered even after a full restore. Apple claims that the full restore function, “completely erases your iPod.” This is only partially true, as residual information and files can be recovered even after multiple restores. It was also observed that after the device was reformatted from the HFS+ Mac version to Windows FAT32 version, data could still be recovered even after switching the file system several times, the researchers say.

You can read the whole research paper here.

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