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Software Reviews
Cyberscrub Privacy Suite

Introduction

Nearly everyone knows that deleting files does not actually remove them from the hard drive. Inexpensive software is available for home use to recover previously deleted files. Governmental agencies and others, some with less than beneficial purposes, have available sophisticated software that is more efficient at recovering such files. Beyond that, hardware recovery tools can recover files long since deleted.

There are several software options that claim to permanently erase files by overwriting them, thus making them unrecoverable by either software or hardware recovery tools. One of these is Cyberscrub Privacy Suite. Privacy Suite, which made its debut in February, 2005, replaced previous versions of Cyberscrub, which was available in Professional, Standard, and Basic versions.

Cyberscrub's website claims its security products have been purchased and used by the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Departments of the Interior and Defense, the United Nations and Fortune 100 companies. The site also features a video of a newscast from WSB TV in which data such as bank records, credit card numbers, and other information had been recovered from reformatted drives, used drives purchased from computer stores, and even from computers discarded by the government.

Privacy Suite is available as a download from the website for $49.95US or on CD for $59.95US. Owners of a previous version of Cyberscrub can receive a discount, the amount of which depends on the version.

Erasing Methods and Other Options

Privacy Suite not only erases previously deleted data, it also provides options to erase files and folders, application history and data, and internet data. A wide variety of erase methods are available, including wiping by a single pass overwrite, a DOD 13 pass, and the Gutman 35 pass. Increasing the number of passes increases the security of the erasure, but naturally increases the time required. In addition to these preconfigured wipe methods, Privacy Suite allows a user to create a custom method. Given the choices, this feature is perhaps more of a gimmick than a real benefit.

Privacy Suite allows the user to schedule various tasks and also to set the priority level which will modify the resources used by the program if other programs are running at the same time. Other options include wiping slack and scrambling file names and attributes.

Erasing Files and Folders

On the first start of Privacy Suite, a Quick Start Screen appears as shown in Figure 1. This screen allows the user to select several options. I have chosen not to display this screen when I start the program as it is somewhat superfluous.

Quick Start Screen
Fig. 1 ... Quick Start Screen

Bypassing the Quick Start screen or choosing "Start Privacy Suite with a full range of features" takes you to the main screen which offers essentially the same options as the Quick Start.

Full Feature Screen
Fig. 2 ... Full Feature Screen

In this screen, a user can drag and drop files and folders, which will activate the Erase All button. Alternatively, a user can select the Files and Folders button, which will open an Explorer window from which the items to be erased can be selected. After adding the files or folders to be deleted and selecting Erase All, the user will be prompted by default to choose whether the files are to be erased. The user can choose to bypass this warning.

Additional Features
Fig. 3 ... Additional Features

The Erase All button will start the wipe process. The process can be cancelled once it is started, but some files will have been partially or completely erased and therefore be unrecoverable. For this reason, care must be taken to ensure that the user truly wants to permanently erase the selected files. The default warning provides the opportunity for a final check, and it is probably a good idea to leave the default setting.