For many military applications, the ability to secure-erase (“zeroize”) flash memory and SSDs is a critical element to protecting classified information such as data, crypto keys, or software programs from falling into enemy hands. But the wide variance among flash drives means that each implementation of security commands must be individually tested before it can be trusted to properly sanitize the drive.
Does Secure Erase Actually Work?
In 2001, a Chinese fighter jet attempting an intercept collided with a US Navy EP-3 SIGINT aircraft. The EP-3 was forced to make an emergency landing on China-controlled Hainan, giving unauthorized access to classified US equipment, data, algorithms, and crypto keys. The Navy crew had 26 minutes to destroy sensitive equipment and data while in the air—using a fire axe, hot coffee, and other methods—plus another 15 minutes on the ground, but their efforts were widely reported to be only partially successful.