A safe text editor // why??

Peter Lebbing peter at digitalbrains.com
Tue Sep 11 16:16:42 CEST 2012

On 10/09/12 19:45, vedaal at nym.hush.com wrote:
> Either people are on their own computers, which they trust, and 
> which they can cleanse the memory and reboot, or they are on 
> untrusted computers, where memory is the least of their problems.

I think people want it because editing a text file *now* might expose the data
*far into the future*. Temp files and swap pages have the potential to live on
your hard disk for a very long time. So you might trust that today your computer
is safe, but you might feel less confident that the hard disk in your system now
won't somehow be exposed to some bad guy in the possibly rather distant future.

By the way, you say cleanse the memory. I'm not sure what you mean. We are
talking about temp files and swap pages that end up in random blocks on your
hard disk. If that block is then allocated for a 10-byte file, the rest of the
block data, containing your decrypted text file, will live for at least as long
as the tiny file that is now in that block. The only sure-fire remedy against a
temp file that got deleted is a full wipe of the partition the file was on, as
far as I know.

I have done this one time or another. I knew I wanted to edit some document
which would or might end up on my hard disk, but I absolutely wanted it kept
"safe". So I made a full image of the hard disk (every single byte of the hard
disk), edited the file, then restored the full image, every single byte of it.

In this particular case it seemed the easiest way, but it does mean pumping data
across for hours.


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