Hide Your Data Through Fragmentation, Not Encryption

The thing about data encryption is that it's basically a flashing neon sign indicating "SENSITIVE DATA HERE!" A new technique lets you secure your data by customizing the way that data is fragmented across your drive.

The new method uses special software to place data on specific parts of your hard disc using a code instead of the disc drive controller chip. Your sensitive data is encoded into a binary value and used to modify the fragmentation patterns of an existing file. The conversion is based on whether or not sequential clusters of data are stored adjacently. If they are, it represents a binary 1; if they aren't, it's a 0.

The system was developed by Hassan Khan and his colleagues at the University of Science and Technology in Islamabad, Pakistan. They say that it can hide a 20MB message on a 160GB hard drive, and detecting its existence would be "unreasonably complex." This is important because the normal methods of encryption are so well known that they're dead giveaways that something is amiss, and often the fact that you have something to hide can be just as damning as the information itself.

This isn't a permanent solution for data security, of course. Now that this type of camouflage is in the field, it won't be long until a detection method is reverse engineered. But research like this is important for everyone—journalists, dissidents, LOIC enthusiasts—who thinks they are at risk of having their drives seized and searched for incriminating information. [ScienceDirect via New Scientist]

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