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diff -u: What's New in Kernel Development

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Alexander Holler wanted to make it much harder for anyone to recover deleted data. He didn't necessarily want to outwit the limitless resources of our governmental overlords, but he wanted to make data recovery harder for the average hostile attacker. The problem as he saw it was that filesystems often would not actually bother to delete data, so much as they would just decouple the data from the file and make that part of the disk available for use by other files. But the data would still be there, at least for a while, for anyone to recouple into a file again.

Alexander posted some patches to implement a new system call that first would overwrite all the data associated with a given file before making that disk space available for use by other files. Since the filesystem knew which blocks on the disk were associated with which files, he reasoned, zeroing out all relevant data would be a trivial operation.

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