Cleaning a flash drive?

Discussion in 'other security issues & news' started by vincenzo, Jul 26, 2011.

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  1. vincenzo

    vincenzo Registered Member

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    I have some flash drives (USB memory sticks) that I want to be 100% sure are clean of malware. I know I can format them, but is there a boot sector on flash drives that would not be wiped when I format? If so, how do I completely clean that sector?

    Thanks
     
  2. HAN

    HAN Registered Member

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  3. vincenzo

    vincenzo Registered Member

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    OK thanks for that info and for the link.

    Are there any boot disks that have the ability to format the flash drives, so I do not risk a Windows based virus having a chance to infect?

    Thanks
     
  4. vincenzo

    vincenzo Registered Member

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    Update: I formatted these flash drives using a boot disc for Gparted. Also, I think if there was a boot sector installed on any of these, it would have been indicated on Gparted.
     
  5. lotuseclat79

    lotuseclat79 Registered Member

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    Hi vincenzo,

    Typically, Linux/Unix .ISO distributions boot up without installing on hard drives, and many have a Disk Utility, e.g. Ubuntu 10.10 which can null or insert an MBR, and separately allow formating of a partiion. Note, however, these operations do not wipe (clean) the falsh drive. For that, the Linux/Unix command "shred" should be able to do the job nicely.

    -- Tom
     
  6. vincenzo

    vincenzo Registered Member

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    Thanks, that's good to know. But for the purpose of making sure any virus threat is removed, a format should be good enough, correct?
     
  7. lotuseclat79

    lotuseclat79 Registered Member

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    Hi vincenzo,

    I don't think that formatting a disk removes any contents in a file system, the remnants of which may remain in raw form on the disk after the reformat. If a format wiped the flash drive then yes, but I do not think that is what the formatting does afaik.

    -- Tom
     
  8. vincenzo

    vincenzo Registered Member

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    Yes, a virus file would still exists on a device after a format, but my understanding is that it cannot propagate itself or deliver its payload. If it could, then people would be needing to wipe hard drives instead of just formatting them when they re-install Windows after an infection.
     
  9. lotuseclat79

    lotuseclat79 Registered Member

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    Hi vincenzo,

    It may (or amy not) depend on where on the flash drive the malware exists. For example, if it were located at the end, and a re-install of Windows does not overwrite that part of the flash drive - the question then would be would the malware be able to function if at all.

    Worth a test to find out the answer (unless someone knows for sure).

    -- Tom
     
  10. Brian_12

    Brian_12 Guest

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