Hide Sensitive Passwords “Inside” a Floppy Disk

by September 29, 2009 09/29/09
Floppy Disk Hidden Password

Here’s a cool tip we were emailed the other day about storing sensitive information right out in the open.

Floppy Disk Hidden PasswordWhile not a new concept, the idea to store sensitive data on the internal disk of a floppy was something we’d never seen before.

In the article we originally saw on instructables.com, they recommended taking apart the disk, sticking the passwords down with glue, and then putting it back together again.

We’ll, we figured out a simpler way to affix the passwords that doesn’t require taking apart the floppy.

Our Method

If you simply cut some small rectangles of sticky label, they can be placed at various intervals on the disk as you spin it.  Sliding the metal bracket to the side will enable you to reach the internal disk.

Floppy Disk Hidden Password

You can rotate the internal disk by turning the metal spindle on the rear side of the disk. Once you’ve placed the labels down, simply continue turning the disk to a blank part.

Anyone snooping around would never know where your passwords are hidden. Even if they opened the sliding metal bracket, they’d just see a blank area.

Of course this method has its downfalls too, such as anyone that’s actively trying to gather sensitive information from your home would most likely throw this in a bag, along with any other media you might have on your desk.

We did like the tip in the article about labeling the disk with some misinformation, like “School Essay.”

Does anyone else have any cool hiding spots for sensitive information they’d like to share?


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Anderson
Anderson

This takes a little bit of time and some cleanup but is easily accessible and secure from all but the most creative individuals who want what you have. Take a Dremmel and a router or spade bit and fashion either a large diameter hole or a long groove at the top of a door. This obviously only works with solid wood doors but is easy to do and doesn't take long. You can hide long as well as numerous smaller items by varying the use of spade and router bits. For example, you can drill a 3/4" hole five inches deep for something big or rout out the entire top of the door (minus a rim of course) down three inches or so and store multiple items. If you want to keep a jump drive or other USB and some cash safe then a single hole with the spade bit will do nicely. You would be surprised just how much you can stash in a single door so long as the items aren't overly large. To prevent rattling you can cut strips of thin rubber or fabric and glue to the perimeter of the cavity. If you have any solid wooden furniture such as dining room tables etc you can do the same thing with the top of the legs depending on how they are mounted to the tabletop. If you live in an apartment that isn't super classy and have a portable shower curtain rod they make good spots for small items. Be sure to waterproof by wrapping in an appropriate material before storing and check them periodically. The same goes for toilet paper rods, unless yours comes apart too easily on its own, they can be used for a single item like a mini jump drive or a roll of cash.

If your TV isn't super slim and expensive then it's likely that you can remove the back panel. Most TV's have a good deal of space back there, especially the old cathode ray tube types. Those have enough room to fit a toolbox, just be sure you don't use it for sensitive electronics as they could be affected over time. Large speakers are also excellent for this, even small desktop speakers for your computer have usable space inside the housing. As always, make sure that what you place there won't be affected by the EM and once "it" is placed make sure that the speakers actually work without sounding off as that would be a dead giveaway. If someone were only interested in physical loot ie. money, guns, jewelry then your computer tower is a good place to hide things. Just remove the panel and affix your goods to the inside, be sure that they aren't sensitive to heat and don't contact any of the components of the PC it's self. If you have one or more cats then here's a place you may not have thought of and few if any people will even conceive to check. If you don't already use litter box liners then get a new box and some of those. Then when you take out the old liner you can place whatever you want to hide under the new one. Wrap it in a good hefty trash bag first and your item/s shouldn't suffer in the slightest and who's going to think of looking where your cat takes a dump for valuables? If you have a reusable container for your pet's food then this is an excellent place to hide small things so long as it isn't transparent. Wrap your stuff in a suitable covering ie. a few layers of aluminum foil, ziplock bag etc and place at the bottom of the container. This also works if you just use the food bags as is, take a new trash bag and dump out the bag of kitty/dog food. Place your secret items at the bottom of the bag and then replace the food, viola!

Depending on the style some lamps have large cavities at either the base or inside a decorative feature that can be exploited. Unscrew a light switch cover and look inside, if it was installed properly then the wires will be inside a plastic box. If you are careful, and smart by wearing electrically insulating gloves (don't use dish gloves, get the real thing) you can use these small spaces to your advantage. Best utilized for items that you don't need access to on any regular basis. Remove an air vent cover and tape or otherwise affix your secrets there, ceiling vents are much less likely to be searched. If you have any tapestries in your home or other fabric hangings then you can attach smaller items to the backs of them. Medical tape is a lot better for this than duck tape so forget the tactical gray/black. On that note, medical tape works VERY well for affixing small items directly to your body and will stay on for several days, even after showering. If you have a bicycle, you can remove the handle grips or the end plugs and hide small valuables there, just be sure to do so in a way that they won't get lost within the frame. You can tie a short length of thread to the item and the end of the grip plug to ensure it stays in place.

The possibilities are endless, just be creative. Be sure to think about how important/valuable the thing/s you are hiding is and how often or how quickly you will need to get to it when choosing and preparing a hiding location. The more secure it is than the longer, more difficult it will be to get to it. The easier, faster it is to access the item/s, the less secure they are. Good luck and I hope this helps!

Anderson
Anderson

This takes a little bit of time and some cleanup but is easily accessible and secure from all but the most creative individuals who want what you have. Take a Dremmel and a router or spade bit and fashion either a large diameter hole or a long groove at the top of a door. This obviously only works with solid wood doors but is easy to do and doesn't take long. You can hide long as well as numerous smaller items by varying the use of spade and router bits. For example, you can drill a 3/4" hole five inches deep for something big or rout out the entire top of the door (minus a rim of course) down three inches or so and store multiple items. If you want to keep a jump drive or other USB and some cash safe then a single hole with the spade bit will do nicely. You would be surprised just how much you can stash in a single door so long as the items aren't overly large. To prevent rattling you can cut strips of thin rubber or fabric and glue to the perimeter of the cavity. If you have any solid wooden furniture such as dining room tables etc you can do the same thing with the top of the legs depending on how they are mounted to the tabletop. If you live in an apartment that isn't super classy and have a portable shower curtain rod they make good spots for small items. Be sure to waterproof by wrapping in an appropriate material before storing and check them periodically. The same goes for toilet paper rods, unless yours comes apart too easily on its own, they can be used for a single item like a mini jump drive or a roll of cash. If your TV isn't super slim and expensive then it's likely that you can remove the back panel. Most TV's have a good deal of space back there, especially the old cathode ray tube types. Those have enough room to fit a toolbox, just be sure you don't use it for sensitive electronics as they could be affected over time. Large speakers are also excellent for this, even small desktop speakers for your computer have usable space inside the housing. As always, make sure that what you place there won't be affected by the EM and once "it" is placed make sure that the speakers actually work without sounding off as that would be a dead giveaway. If someone were only interested in physical loot ie. money, guns, jewelry then your computer tower is a good place to hide things. Just remove the panel and affix your goods to the inside, be sure that they aren't sensitive to heat and don't contact any of the components of the PC it's self. If you have one or more cats then here's a place you may not have thought of and few if any people will even conceive to check. If you don't already use litter box liners then get a new box and some of those. Then when you take out the old liner you can place whatever you want to hide under the new one. Wrap it in a good hefty trash bag first and your item/s shouldn't suffer in the slightest and who's going to think of looking where your cat takes a dump for valuables? If you have a reusable container for your pet's food then this is an excellent place to hide small things so long as it isn't transparent. Wrap your stuff in a suitable covering ie. a few layers of aluminum foil, ziplock bag etc and place at the bottom of the container. This also works if you just use the food bags as is, take a new trash bag and dump out the bag of kitty/dog food. Place your secret items at the bottom of the bag and then replace the food, viola! Depending on the style some lamps have large cavities at either the base or inside a decorative feature that can be exploited. Unscrew a light switch cover and look inside, if it was installed properly then the wires will be inside a plastic box. If you are careful, and smart by wearing electrically insulating gloves (don't use dish gloves, get the real thing) you can use these small spaces to your advantage. Best utilized for items that you don't need access to on any regular basis. Remove an air vent cover and tape or otherwise affix your secrets there, ceiling vents are much less likely to be searched. If you have any tapestries in your home or other fabric hangings then you can attach smaller items to the backs of them. Medical tape is a lot better for this than duck tape so forget the tactical gray/black. On that note, medical tape works VERY well for affixing small items directly to your body and will stay on for several days, even after showering. If you have a bicycle, you can remove the handle grips or the end plugs and hide small valuables there, just be sure to do so in a way that they won't get lost within the frame. You can tie a short length of thread to the item and the end of the grip plug to ensure it stays in place. The possibilities are endless, just be creative. Be sure to think about how important/valuable the thing/s you are hiding is and how often or how quickly you will need to get to it when choosing and preparing a hiding location. The more secure it is than the longer, more difficult it will be to get to it. The easier, faster it is to access the item/s, the less secure they are. Good luck and I hope this helps!

TJ
TJ

There is a great way to stay safe on public computers and keep your USB drive secure. Use Trucrypt Portable to create an encrypted container on you USB drive and then install portable apps on the encrypted container. Using Mozilla with Sync enabled and/or LastPass you will be able to have easy access to all of you bookmarks, tabs and passwords without worry of being compromised. Lastpass even helps avoid key logging by entering your credentials without the having to key them in manually. In addition the Truecrypt container also protects any documents that you have stored in the container. Hope that this helps.

http://www.portableapps.com

http://www.lastpass.com

http://www.truecrypt.org

http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/encrypt-your-usb-stick-with-truecrypt-60/

TJ

TJ
TJ

There is a great way to stay safe on public computers and keep your USB drive secure. Use Trucrypt Portable to create an encrypted container on you USB drive and then install portable apps on the encrypted container. Using Mozilla with Sync enabled and/or LastPass you will be able to have easy access to all of you bookmarks, tabs and passwords without worry of being compromised. Lastpass even helps avoid key logging by entering your credentials without the having to key them in manually. In addition the Truecrypt container also protects any documents that you have stored in the container. Hope that this helps. http://www.portableapps.com http://www.lastpass.com http://www.truecrypt.org http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/encrypt-your-usb-stick-with-truecrypt-60/ TJ

avt
avt

It's a good idea to protect your stuff from people who are in a rush and likely to overlook the fact that the highlighter has no tip :P While not as spacious as a highlighter, I find large cap-style pens work well, because once you remove the tip you can trim it and then secure it once again in the pen using hot glue so it appears as simply a non-working pen. Also unlike with most highlighters you can unscrew a pen in seconds for easy access to whatever is inside.Another two nifty tricks I found on instructables are hollowing out an eraser to store a flash drive in, and using an empty lighter to store keys, money, etc.http://www.instructables.com/id/Pink-Eraser-USB...http://www.instructables.com/id/How-To-Make-A-%...

avt
avt

It's a good idea to protect your stuff from people who are in a rush and likely to overlook the fact that the highlighter has no tip :P While not as spacious as a highlighter, I find large cap-style pens work well, because once you remove the tip you can trim it and then secure it once again in the pen using hot glue so it appears as simply a non-working pen. Also unlike with most highlighters you can unscrew a pen in seconds for easy access to whatever is inside.Another two nifty tricks I found on instructables are hollowing out an eraser to store a flash drive in, and using an empty lighter to store keys, money, etc.http://www.instructables.com/id/Pink-Eraser-USB...http://www.instructables.com/id/How-To-Make-A-%...

fuspar
fuspar

Mozilla has a portable version of Firefox, which is small enough to put in a thumb drive. You can then run the browser on any computer from the drive itself, leaving no info behind whatsoever. Great for checking your account balances and other private matters away from home/laptop.

krazykiddjoe
krazykiddjoe

I've got certain passwords for work that have to be changed every 60 days. They can't repeat for 6 months. It has to have one letter one special character and numbers.... I use the date for the numbers two digit month and year... So I always know what the password... I've gotten other to try this as well and it simplify's running this password... for others I use the address book route and the usb drive. I am interested in the photo thing as well tho.

KKJ-Out

krazykiddjoe
krazykiddjoe

I've got certain passwords for work that have to be changed every 60 days. They can't repeat for 6 months. It has to have one letter one special character and numbers.... I use the date for the numbers two digit month and year... So I always know what the password... I've gotten other to try this as well and it simplify's running this password... for others I use the address book route and the usb drive. I am interested in the photo thing as well tho. KKJ-Out

James
James

It's been a long time since I've even seen a floppy disk.

A colleague keeps his passwords to numbers and stores them in his address book, formatted to look like telephone numbers. I think that's a decent way of hiding in plain sight.

James
James

It's been a long time since I've even seen a floppy disk. A colleague keeps his passwords to numbers and stores them in his address book, formatted to look like telephone numbers. I think that's a decent way of hiding in plain sight.

misizjackson
misizjackson

Unless it's one of their scopes, right. :)

ITS Admin
ITS Admin

There's nothing tactical about Swarvoski Crystals LOL!!

Thanks for the comment,

Bryan

misizjackson
misizjackson

I'm stunned actually. I can't believe anyone really has floppy's hanging around. Uh hum, what kinda hard/peripheral drive do I need to run them?

I suggest a USB Flash Drive. You can even get one with Swarvoski Crystals to hang around your neck.

misizjackson
misizjackson

I'm stunned actually. I can't believe anyone really has floppy's hanging around. Uh hum, what kinda hard/peripheral drive do I need to run them? I suggest a USB Flash Drive. You can even get one with Swarvoski Crystals to hang around your neck.

Roller77
Roller77

I guess you could say I don't take a lot of time to hide sensitive information. Because I know most practiced criminals and intelligent types. Can toss a room in under three minutes, looking in all the good hiding places. The picture encryption software is a good idea, another one is a good tamper resistant, encrypted thumb drive like "ironkey" it is what those who have information that is much more dangerous use, example the US military,

Also you can take any good thumb drive and get free encryption software/database software, that is very difficult to crack and will protect you from most identity theft, style threats. I also carry around on a thumb drive software that allows me to erase any information I entered or viewed on a public computer

Roller77
Roller77

I guess you could say I don't take a lot of time to hide sensitive information. Because I know most practiced criminals and intelligent types. Can toss a room in under three minutes, looking in all the good hiding places. The picture encryption software is a good idea, another one is a good tamper resistant, encrypted thumb drive like "ironkey" it is what those who have information that is much more dangerous use, example the US military, Also you can take any good thumb drive and get free encryption software/database software, that is very difficult to crack and will protect you from most identity theft, style threats. I also carry around on a thumb drive software that allows me to erase any information I entered or viewed on a public computer

Tony
Tony

Someone once recommended wrapping a bill around the batteries in your flashlight. That way the batteries won't rattle and you'd have a small stash of emergency cash. You could, of course, replace the money with a piece of paper with the data to be stored written on it. (The assumption, of course, is that you will always carry your flashlight with you, no matter where you go. But hey - who doesn't?)

Another place to hide your sensitive data would be a small USB drive on your key ring. Dreadfully mundane, perhaps, but effective - most people usually tend to carry their keys with them, too. If storing a larger amount of sensitive data (multiple passwords, etc.) you could even encrypt the drive so you need only remember one master password to gain access to it.

The idea Riaan mentioned, embedding your data into a bunch of images, is a great one too.

The floppy disk method though, that I don't like so much. Nobody uses floppy disks for mundane purposes any more (Manufacturers have ceased fitting floppy disk drives to their computers years ago!), so an intelligence gatherer is bound to think it is a disk encryption key or something else equally unusual and thus interesting - in other words, worth taking with you or copying. Or they are less intelligent and just see a disk and go "that might be important". Same outcome, either way. Good thinking on the sticky note method, a very nice execution of the idea. Pity that the premise of hiding sensitive data in an obvious data storage container is kind of flawed to begin with.

Tony
Tony

Someone once recommended wrapping a bill around the batteries in your flashlight. That way the batteries won't rattle and you'd have a small stash of emergency cash. You could, of course, replace the money with a piece of paper with the data to be stored written on it. (The assumption, of course, is that you will always carry your flashlight with you, no matter where you go. But hey - who doesn't?) Another place to hide your sensitive data would be a small USB drive on your key ring. Dreadfully mundane, perhaps, but effective - most people usually tend to carry their keys with them, too. If storing a larger amount of sensitive data (multiple passwords, etc.) you could even encrypt the drive so you need only remember one master password to gain access to it. The idea Riaan mentioned, embedding your data into a bunch of images, is a great one too. The floppy disk method though, that I don't like so much. Nobody uses floppy disks for mundane purposes any more (Manufacturers have ceased fitting floppy disk drives to their computers years ago!), so an intelligence gatherer is bound to think it is a disk encryption key or something else equally unusual and thus interesting - in other words, worth taking with you or copying. Or they are less intelligent and just see a disk and go "that might be important". Same outcome, either way. Good thinking on the sticky note method, a very nice execution of the idea. Pity that the premise of hiding sensitive data in an obvious data storage container is kind of flawed to begin with.

Riaan Rossouw
Riaan Rossouw

Use Hide In Picture software to encode a text file into an image and post it to a host of your choice. The chances of anyone firstly finding your vacation pix and then spending heaps of time trying to find encrypted info in them is near zero, but they'll always be available from any terminal. The software is small enough to download on demand when you need to recover the data.

wrestlingnrj
wrestlingnrj

One of the methods I like to use, while it's not as readily accessible, is pretty decent too. I take the end off of a highlighter, pull the ink out and then use that for any necessary storage. Some are big enough to fit a small flash drive in as well.

Eric
Eric

Doc - That is a very cool idea. Got any pics?

ITS Admin
ITS Admin

Great idea Doc!

Thanks for the comment!

"Doc"
"Doc"

Pez dispenser with a Thumb drive in the bottom for info ;-)

ITS Admin
ITS Admin

James, the address book format is a great way, thanks for the tip!

ITS Admin
ITS Admin

There's nothing tactical about Swarvoski Crystals LOL!! Thanks for the comment, Bryan

ITS Admin
ITS Admin

Roller77,

Let us know what that software is you mentioned that erases sensitive information. I've heard of installing a browser right onto a thumb drive so that when you're on a computer you just plug in your thumb drive and open the browser on the drive. Then any history etc.. that is gathered is only stored on the thumb drive. Not sure how accurate that info is, I'd have to look into it again.

Thanks for the comment,

Bryan

Brian
Brian

Roller77,

Could you tell us what the software is called that you use to erase your tracks on the computer? Thanks!

ITS Admin
ITS Admin

Roller77, Let us know what that software is you mentioned that erases sensitive information. I've heard of installing a browser right onto a thumb drive so that when you're on a computer you just plug in your thumb drive and open the browser on the drive. Then any history etc.. that is gathered is only stored on the thumb drive. Not sure how accurate that info is, I'd have to look into it again. Thanks for the comment, Bryan

Brian
Brian

Roller77, Could you tell us what the software is called that you use to erase your tracks on the computer? Thanks!

ITS Admin
ITS Admin

Great additions Tony!

I agree that the method is flawed to begin with, but judging by the comments, the article did its job :)

It got everyone thinking in that mode and we hoped it would.

Regards,

Bryan

ITS Admin
ITS Admin

Great additions Tony! I agree that the method is flawed to begin with, but judging by the comments, the article did its job :) It got everyone thinking in that mode and we hoped it would. Regards, Bryan

ITS Admin
ITS Admin

Riaan,

Great information! Thanks for the comment!

ITS Admin
ITS Admin

Riaan, Great information! Thanks for the comment!

ITS Admin
ITS Admin

Great idea Doc! Thanks for the comment!

Yan
Yan

Good idea. I always carry a "Computer on a stick" with me. Windows XP loading from a USB key. Most "public" computers allow you to go in the BIOS, so you put USB thumbdrive as first boot device, load YOUR OWN XP and do your stuff. When done there is not even one bit of data on the PC you used... Worked great in Cuba last year... They sell you "10 minutes" cards, you go to the PC and when you login to Windows with the info on your card it allows a 10 minutes session. With my USB key I had my own XP and unlimited session! ;)

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