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WipeDrive: Data Sanitization is now an Alternative to Shredding Drives

Paul Katzoff

Chief Executive Officer

WhiteCanyon Software


Crystal Harris


Published – March 30, 2020

Interview conducted by:

Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine

CEOCFO: Mr. Katzoff, what is the idea behind WhiteCanyon™ Software?

Mr. Katzoff: At WhiteCanyon Software, we saw a need in the market for better data security, a software solution that can address the technological advances that have caused a lack of trust and the ability to securely erase data from solid state devices, platter based drives and NVMe drives.  

We felt software could correctly address this issue and that is where the WipeDrive product has found a great niche for the past 22 years. Recently, we’ve teamed up with partners to provide mobile device and diagnostic solutions. And this has been a great value for our customers.

CEOCFO: What is your approach to solving that problem?  

Mr. Katzoff: We decided to pursue a single comprehensive solution that addresses all the technical advances that are happening across data-bearing devices and then receive third-party certification to substantiate WipeDrive’s claims. This has worked out very well for us but we are constantly addressing customer’s lack of trust in software data erasure over physical destruction.  

CEOCFO: How are you erasing data and how does it compare with some of the other methods available?  

Mr. Katzoff: We are implementing erasure with ATA commands for SSDs and direct overwrites for hard drives and SSDs that are not ATA compliant. The open source and low-cost software tools on the market do not address SSDs correctly and it has caused a major issue for corporations.     

CEOCFO: How can an end user know if the data is really gone, other than trust?  

Mr. Katzoff: That’s one of the difficulties we are trying to solve. There are four different options right now; Third party verification tools that provide a sector by sector examination of the erasure to guarantee all data has been eradicated. You can also use a sector viewer and see if the overwrite pattern was implemented correctly. For you and I the sector viewer would display garbled numbers and letters on the device. However, let us say you run a secure pass of zeroes. When you are done the sector viewer will display all zeroes on that drive, which means all the data is erased.

You can also use online data recovery tools that will go through the device and recover any files they find. The last option is professional forensic data software. These forensic tools are more robust and are used by police departments and law enforcement. These high-end forensic tools address drives directly and some will do chip-off attacks on SSDs to analyze the memory chips directly.  

CEOCFO: Who is looking to erase data?  

Mr. Katzoff: You know that number is growing every day! We started off as just a three- and one-half inch floppy diskette that the Air Force used. They certified it and it went throughout the world to every Air Force base. From there, WipeDrive became popular in the consumer market. We were in stores such as Ultimate Electronics, Comp USA, Best Buy and many others as a software tool for consumers.

Over the last five years, data breaches have caused a major interest in data erasure for corporations. As we see these data breaches happen, we see large corporations lose stock value and damage to their reputation. They are now addressing data security and they are saying, “Okay, at end of life, we need to have proof that when this laptop, desktop or server, tablet device leaves our facility that all of the data is eradicated.” This is where WipeDrive steps in.

Our tool provides not only that service and that function, but also provides a report so the IT department can then say, “All the data is gone from this device, you can now sell it, you can donate it, you can reallocate it, you can do whatever you want with it, it is now safe to leave our facility.”     

CEOCFO: How do you reach out to potential clients?

Mr. Katzoff: Our strategy is direct to customer. We use paid search advertising, marketing to IT managers and other methods to put WipeDrive in front of clients needed data erasure.

CEOCFO: How is the tool used?  

Mr. Katzoff: WipeDrive is run in from a Linux kernel, which allows us to boot on almost any computer in the world. Whether it is a Linux-based, Windows-based, or Mac, it does not matter. We can boot up on that device, either from a USB or a CD, address the connected drive and erase it. If you want to erase hundreds of computers simultaneously or if you have a PXE network set up already, we have a PXE deployable version that can be pushed out to all client systems. You can erase them simultaneously and that report gets saved back to the PXE server.

The last option that we have is a remote kill tool that can be pushed out to any server, laptop or desktop that you would like. It is designed to boot up, run and erase that computer and then report back to you the results of that erasure, so any system can be wiped, wherever it is, be it Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, or Australia.      

CEOCFO: Would you tell us about White Canyon’s recent certifications?  

Mr. Katzoff: At WhiteCanyon Software, we are very proud of our certifications. It is something that sets us apart from the other tools in the market. We first received NIAP EAL 4+ common criteria certification back in 2010. Since then we have received a host of certifications. The most recent is the NCSC, which is a UK certification. We also have an ADISA certification for SSD wiping.


CEOCFO: What has changed in your approach over time? What have you learned as the company has grown and evolved?  

Mr. Katzoff: That is a great question. Our approach has changed from a wide net to concentrating on strategic clients that then create a benchmark for each industry.

We have learned that relationships are very important in the data erasure market. The corporations and the IT asset managers that we work with need to have trust in our software solution. And that comes from a strong relationship and a dedication to provide an erasure solution that is easy for them to implement. At this point, we have a decade of working with most of our clients and our relationships have helped us keep WipeDrive current and address major market concerns.

CEOCFO: You have a variety of solutions, a variety of products. Is it easy to know what is right for any given customer? How do you help them decide what is the right product for them?  

Mr. Katzoff: It can be difficult to go through and select the right products. Because there is a wide variety of technology out there that we address, it can be kind of confusing which one of our tools is best for a client. In this situation they should work with one of our sales executives. Our sales executives can address their needs and provide the best solution for their environment.  

Our WipeDrive tool is the main platform for erasing computers, laptops, desktops, workstations and servers. We also have a SystemSaver tool that maintains the Windows operating system while erasing user accounts. And WipeDrive Mobile provides erasure of phones and tablets.      

CEOCFO: Do many people take advantage of the home solution or are people not paying attention when they get rid of their personal computers?

Mr. Katzoff: My understanding is that most people have three to four hard drives and a couple laptops at home that they are afraid to get rid of. No one wants to ruin a computer by drilling through the drive but the risk of personal data being recovered is too great.  

WipeDrive provides a safe alternative for home users to erase their drive so they can donate it or sell it. Right now the WipeDrive Home product is free with the coupon code “HOMEFREE”.

CEOCFO: How is business?  

Mr. Katzoff: Business is great! Over the last two years we have had a thirty percent growth. We continue to see increased interest with the high volume of data breaches and hacks that are occurring. GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is a major privacy regulation in the EU that has been a big driver of growth. Here in the US, the US senate has proposed a federal data privacy law. We think this is going to further drive growth for us. Data privacy and data security continue to be one of the top five items that are important to CEOs and Executive teams.   

CEOCFO: Where does price come into play? How do you hit on a price point that will make sense to people and be good for you as well?  

Mr. Katzoff: Price shouldn’t be the overall factor in making a data erasure selection. Features and compatibility are the main points that customers should look for. WipeDrive significantly decreases labor costs for our ITADs and we’ve seen companies save a few dollars on license cost but then have labor cost increase with their tool. Pricing should be fit for both sides. There is a cost to maintaining compatibility and rolling out new features and there is a price point where it is not worth it for the client to erase the drive. We work with each of our clients to find the price point that works for everyone.

CEOCFO: What is ahead for WhiteCanyon Software?  

Mr. Katzoff: The future is changing constantly. I love technology, because that is what defines the industry. There are new ideas, approaches, solutions, hurdles, and headaches constantly. That is where we focus, and our vision is solving the headaches for IT managers. That is the number one aspiration, creating a simple tool that they can understand and use simply wherever they need to erase their IT assets.

As a company we are constantly working to stay current with technology. It is a constant job. We have our full team here at the American Fork, Utah, headquarters and we perform our Development, Sales and Support all from this location. We are constantly improving WipeDrive to be compatible with new technology and rolling out features that our clients have requested. And we love it!

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“We are implementing erasure with ATA commands for SSDs and direct overwrites for hard drives and SSDs that are not ATA compliant.”- Paul Katzoff