Secure Erase File tool

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The Chrome OS “secure_erase_file” package contains utilities for securely erasing data stored on eMMC devices.

Its primary intended use is for erasing vault keyset data used by cryptohome when transitioning to developer mode.

eMMC devices may provide commands for securely erasing data from the underlying NAND flash, as described in eMMC 5.1. It is necessary to use these when securely erasing data as the flash translation layer is free to map writes to the same LBA to different underlying physical locations (e.g. wear-leveling).

By default, secure_erase_file will erase files using eMMC commands, write zeroes over the target LBAs, unlink the file, and drop filesystem caches. It will exit with a non-zero exit code if any of these operations fail for any file.

This tool currently only supports eMMC devices; SATA and NVMe support may be added in the future.

Library interface: libsecure_erase_file

libsecure_erase_file is a small library that provides a C++ API. In order to use the library in a package, you need to do the following:

  • Add a dependency (DEPEND and RDEPEND) on chromeos-base/secure-erase to the package's ebuild.

  • Link the package with libsecure_erase_file (for example, by passing -lsecure_erase_file to the package's link command). is built and installed into the sysroot libdir (e.g. $SYSROOT/usr/lib).

  • To access the secure_erase_file API in the package, include the <secure_erase_file/secure_erase_file.h> header file. The file is installed in $SYSROOT/usr/include when the library is built and installed.

Binary interface: secure_erase_file

secure_erase_file is an executable which can be used to securely erase files from shell scripts. To use it in a package, you need to do the following:

  • Add a dependency (RDEPEND) on chromeos-base/secure-erase to the package's ebuild.

  • The executable will be available at /usr/bin/secure_erase_file, but the path should be omitted by users. Just use secure_erase_file.