I have recently come upon this post on http://hostjury.com/blog/view/195/the-great-zero-challenge-remains-unaccepted and decided to give it a try. What could be easier than writing a .NET application which will write 0’es on the free space of a hard drive, and then I would try to recover any bits of files that were previously deleted from the space in question. I know, the challenge is different but this is what I want to convert it to.
I don’t have UNIX nor the “dd” library but I do have a mind set to help the police recover deleted/formatted information from hard drives or maybe help a good company forever erase sensitive data. Wherever this quest might lead me, it will definitely help someone.
To start, let’s say I have a sensitive file I need to erase from a hard drive.
I have a Windows 7 system (pro), all the coding tools I need and a 5GB file (a DVD Movie I copied on my hard drive and then deleted it). I will try to recover it after I try to erase every trace of it.
This started off easy but then I hit my first road block. All the code samples I have found were written in C, C++ using low-level handles. I quickly found a C# implementation of a function which would work with the Defragmentation API and show a quick method to access the VolumeMap (to find the free space). After converting it to VB.NET (my preferred language) and fixing the few casting errors that appeared I found myself having a bit of a struggle to obtain the hard drive descriptior.
Using the file path as ?c: as was recommended by MSDN, brought on WIN32 error number 87. Now, this does not say much so I tried to implement a FormatMessage function using the Windows API and failed miserably. Upon digging a bit forward, I found out that to get the message from the windows error I would have to change this line
Throw New Exception(Marshal.GetLastWin32Error().ToString())
Throw New Win32Exception()
This will convert the number to a string that makes sense. In my case, the error was “Invalid Argument”. So I changed the path format to “C:” and this time I got the dreaded “Access Denied” error (code 5).
At this point I started pulling my hair. How could the Windows security settings be the ones not allowing me to perform dangerous functions with my hard drive. 🙂 I know.
After reading on this issue a little bit online, I found this nice post explaining everything there is to know about elevation of rights in .NET so I can execute my program as an administrator.
After adding an extra piece of code on my form to elevate the rights on the program being executed, I had my handle but when it came to opening the handle and obtaining the hard drive image,
Dim fResult As Boolean = DeviceIoControl(hDevice, _ FSConstants.FSCTL_GET_VOLUME_BITMAP, p, _ CUInt(Marshal.SizeOf(i64)), pDest, q, _ size, IntPtr.Zero)
The error I got was “Handle is Invalid!”. The handle number was 0. I had a read again on the FSCTL_GET_VOLUME_BITMAP function:
Operation This is generally the first FSCTL that is used by a defragmenter, because it is required to get a map of the clusters that are free and in use on a volume. Each bit in the bitmap returned in the output buffer represents one custer, where a 1 signifies an allocated cluster and a 0 signifies a free cluster. FileHandle The file handle passed to this call must represent a volume opened with the GENERIC_READ flag. A volume can be opened with a name of the form, ".X:", where 'X' is the volume's drive letter.
I shall stop here and continue later. There must be something simple to do about this.