Overview of NAVSO P-5239-26

Details on the NAVSO P-5239-26 Data Wipe Method

Close-Up Of Top Secret Text On Shredded Paper

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NAVSO P-5239-26 is a software-based data sanitization method used in various file shredder and data destruction programs to overwrite existing information on a hard drive or another storage device.

Erasing a hard drive using the NAVSO P-5239-26 data sanitization method will prevent all software based file recovery methods from lifting information from the drive and is also likely to prevent most hardware-based recovery methods from extracting information.

NAVSO P-5239-26 Wipe Method

The NAVSO P-5239-26 data sanitization method is usually implemented in the following way:

  • Pass 1 — Writes a specified character (e.g. one)
  • Pass 2 — Writes the complement of the specified character (e.g. zero)
  • Pass 3 — Writes a random character and verifies the write

The NAVSO P-5239-26 data sanitization method we list above is the way most data destruction programs implement the standard. However, according to the actual specification, this is the less effective, "alternate method."

The "preferred method" involves a more complicated overwriting pattern.

The Origins of NAVSO P-5239-26

The NAVSO P-5239-26 sanitization method was originally defined in Navy Staff Office Publication 5239 Module 26: Information Systems Security Program Guidelines, published by the US Navy.

You can read the NAVSO P-5239-26 data sanitization specification in 3.3.c.1 and 3.3.c.2 of NAVSO Publication 5239-26.

It's unclear if the US Navy still uses NAVSO P-5239-26 as its software-based data sanitization standard.

Most data destruction programs support multiple data sanitization methods in addition to NAVSO P-5239-26.

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