Samsung asks customer to destroy 980 Pro SSD with a drill before returning it for RMA

headtr1p

Posts: 15   +1
Cutting corners: Samsung Germany has taken data protection to a new extreme. They requested a customer to destroy his Samsung 980 Pro by drilling or smashing it with a hammer before returning it for RMA. But why?

Returning an SSD can be a delicate process as data security can be of utmost importance -- even more so in Europe where strict data protection laws have been in place for decades. However, a user from Igor's Lab discovered a rather unconventional RMA policy when returning his Samsung 980 Pro SSD. Samsung Germany requested this user to destroy his 980 Pro with a drill or hammer before returning it for RMA.

As detailed in the report from Igor's Lab, the RMA started in typical fashion with the user providing requisite information such as the serial number, proof of failure, and troubleshooting steps. A diagnostic scan on Samsung Magician revealed the drive was failing with several errors on the NAND flash. The next step was for the drive to be returned, but what if the customer is unwilling to return the drive as is? This is where things got interesting.

At this stage there had also been some telephone correspondence between Samsung and the customer, and although the details are not known, we can only surmise this to be an extreme case where the customer had stored highly sensitive data on the dying drive.

After providing a written explanation as to why the drive could not be returned as is, the user discovered a somewhat bizarre RMA policy. As per the correspondence from Samsung, the customer was requested to "drill holes in the SSD or smash it with a hammer", while providing photo or video evidence of the act. The idea was to make it physically impossible to access the data, thereby ensuring complete data protection.

Igor's Labs happily obliged and took to the 980 Pro with a grinder, nullifying any possibility of data being recovered from the drive. They even published a YouTube video (shown above) of the execution. The video shows the individual NAND layers being destroyed -- Samsung 980 Pro owners may want to take a pass on this one. Needless to say, all the data was destroyed, ensuring peace of mind for the customer. The drive has since been sent back to Samsung, and the customer awaits his new SSD.

Users are encouraged to use a wipe tool such as Active@ KillDisk before returning or selling their SSDs. This kind of utility will permanently remove all data, also preventing the possibility of data recovery. However such a tool may not reliably wipe all data on a failing drive, so keep your hammers and drills handy!

Permalink to story.

 

eTheBlack

Posts: 32   +111
Had similar thing with OnePlus, have 7T who fell and screen got so broken I couldnt do **** on it. So I requested RMA to get fixed so I can access data. They didnt even give me option if I wanna keep data or no. First thing they bolded out is "Data will be erased", which is stupid imo. Just give us option: "Wanna keep data? Yes or No", simple af. That is after you prove of course you bought that drive and its yours, which you have to do anyway.
 

hahahanoobs

Posts: 4,675   +2,654
I remember sending Corsair an image of inadequate mounting pressure with an AIO. I wish I could remember if they requested it. RMA was approved. Either way it wasn't a big deal to me. I'd gladly damage a drive to get my RMA approved. Would be happier if they sent the drive before getting the broken one. I can dream!
 

hahahanoobs

Posts: 4,675   +2,654
Had similar thing with OnePlus, have 7T who fell and screen got so broken I couldnt do **** on it. So I requested RMA to get fixed so I can access data. They didnt even give me option if I wanna keep data or no. First thing they bolded out is "Data will be erased", which is stupid imo. Just give us option: "Wanna keep data? Yes or No", simple af. That is after you prove of course you bought that drive and its yours, which you have to do anyway.
Recovering data from damaged devices is not what this article is about though.
 

mrtraver

Posts: 521   +323
At this point, I don't know why they didn't just tell him to keep the drive and dispose of it in his own way. They already had proof the drive was faulty, and it's not like they are going to learn anything about why it failed once it has been physically destroyed.
 

Neatfeatguy

Posts: 1,019   +1,859
It's not unheard of for a company to request some kind of task taken to render an item useless so you can get a refund or replacement. It's not a very common practice, but it does happen from time to time.

I had purchased a dehumidifier some year ago. I registered the product online with a copy of the proof of purchase and that was that....about 2 years later I received a letter in the mail informing me that there was a recall on the dehumidifier I purchased due to electrical fire issues. If I wanted a refund of my money I had to do a few things because sending the dehumidifier back to the company for repair would be too costly for them in terms of shipping to them, repairing (or replacing) and shipping it back, so they devised another solution for people:

1) using black permanent marker I had to take a picture of me writing on the back of the dehumidifier with the current date and my name that I had registered the product under.
2) I had to take a picture (with the written date and name visible in the picture) of me cutting the power cord in two places
3) I had to take a picture of the entire dehumidifier with the cut up power cord

I could email or mail in (I opted for email, much faster) everything and about 1 month later I received a check in the mail for the $175 or so I had spent on it.
 

NicktheWVAHick

Posts: 414   +777
What difference does it make? It’s not like Damsung has some guy with a soldering gun and some flux that’s going to fix the 3D VNAND and send it back to the customer. They’re just going to destroy it (hopefully) anyway. The thin that’s surprising is that they even wanted it back in the first place.
 

zulu53

Posts: 193   +70
I don't think wipe tools work on a defective disk controller; they are really for re-cycling disks between different users which presumes that the disk is in full working condition. In the old HDD days we were told to dissemble the drive and smash the platters into pieces with a hammer if the drive was not working (not reading and writing correctly). If its not writing correctly then the wipe programs do not work.
 

George Keech

Posts: 265   +458
I don't know if they could but surely this is worse for E-Waste than a faulty drive? What's stopping them saying use this utility to full wipe it before you send it in?
 

kimo1

Posts: 261   +469
SSD's have Secure Erase and Enhanced Secure Erase. The function sends a power spike through all transistors, clearing them from all data. And it takes about 2 seconds to wipe 512GB. But mechanical disk drive wiping by overwriting takes hours.
But yeah, if you have a fatal issue at a higher level then you need to physically destroy the drive.
 

Ryan Barrett

Posts: 53   +13
I don't think wipe tools work on a defective disk controller; they are really for re-cycling disks between different users which presumes that the disk is in full working condition. In the old HDD days we were told to dissemble the drive and smash the platters into pieces with a hammer if the drive was not working (not reading and writing correctly). If its not writing correctly then the wipe programs do not work.
I do IT for a hospital and we usually have a company we send through, but I've been told drilling a hole is the best way to make sure nothing is recoverable. Surprised to see that on an SSD. Pretty easy to smash too.
 

MaestroIT

Posts: 107   +105
Nobody mentioned health issues, grinding like this is extremely dangerous: it releases all kinds of dust (silicon, gold, and other materials used in chip making) into the air.

drilling is safer IMHO...
 

ACE76

Posts: 21   +32
What difference does it make? It’s not like Damsung has some guy with a soldering gun and some flux that’s going to fix the 3D VNAND and send it back to the customer. They’re just going to destroy it (hopefully) anyway. The thin that’s surprising is that they even wanted it back in the first place.

Of course they will want it back...that's how they learn of potential issues with the product and if the issue could be widespread.
 

mctommy

Posts: 440   +164
What difference does it make? It’s not like Damsung has some guy with a soldering gun and some flux that’s going to fix the 3D VNAND and send it back to the customer. They’re just going to destroy it (hopefully) anyway. The thin that’s surprising is that they even wanted it back in the first place.
Chain of custody... what if it was lost in transit while being sent back? This way, they have evidence (at least from their end) that the user destroyed the drive physically .
 

waclark

Posts: 706   +450
Had similar thing with OnePlus, have 7T who fell and screen got so broken I couldnt do **** on it. So I requested RMA to get fixed so I can access data. They didnt even give me option if I wanna keep data or no. First thing they bolded out is "Data will be erased", which is stupid imo. Just give us option: "Wanna keep data? Yes or No", simple af. That is after you prove of course you bought that drive and its yours, which you have to do anyway.

The problem is you cannot ensure that some tech didn't access the data before returning the device. This is similar to credit card theft back in the 80s.

Back then CC were run on a knuckle-buster (physical card swipe) with carbon copies given to the guest. But, people were taking the cards and running them through twice so they had the card number. This is another reason many cards have gotten away from the raised lettering on the front. People would use a piece of paper and pencil to copy the raised letters (CC number).

As a business owner, I would not want the responsibility or liability of ensuring your data is protected from theft. So, I would ask that you delete it or allow me to delete it.
 

Bp968

Posts: 267   +193
It's not unheard of for a company to request some kind of task taken to render an item useless so you can get a refund or replacement. It's not a very common practice, but it does happen from time to time.

I had purchased a dehumidifier some year ago. I registered the product online with a copy of the proof of purchase and that was that....about 2 years later I received a letter in the mail informing me that there was a recall on the dehumidifier I purchased due to electrical fire issues. If I wanted a refund of my money I had to do a few things because sending the dehumidifier back to the company for repair would be too costly for them in terms of shipping to them, repairing (or replacing) and shipping it back, so they devised another solution for people:

1) using black permanent marker I had to take a picture of me writing on the back of the dehumidifier with the current date and my name that I had registered the product under.
2) I had to take a picture (with the written date and name visible in the picture) of me cutting the power cord in two places
3) I had to take a picture of the entire dehumidifier with the cut up power cord

I could email or mail in (I opted for email, much faster) everything and about 1 month later I received a check in the mail for the $175 or so I had spent on it.
It's not unheard of for a company to request some kind of task taken to render an item useless so you can get a refund or replacement. It's not a very common practice, but it does happen from time to time.

I had purchased a dehumidifier some year ago. I registered the product online with a copy of the proof of purchase and that was that....about 2 years later I received a letter in the mail informing me that there was a recall on the dehumidifier I purchased due to electrical fire issues. If I wanted a refund of my money I had to do a few things because sending the dehumidifier back to the company for repair would be too costly for them in terms of shipping to them, repairing (or replacing) and shipping it back, so they devised another solution for people:

1) using black permanent marker I had to take a picture of me writing on the back of the dehumidifier with the current date and my name that I had registered the product under.
2) I had to take a picture (with the written date and name visible in the picture) of me cutting the power cord in two places
3) I had to take a picture of the entire dehumidifier with the cut up power cord

I could email or mail in (I opted for email, much faster) everything and about 1 month later I received a check in the mail for the $175 or so I had spent on it.

Id have been tempted, after the check cashed, to send them a new series of photos where I use duct tape to "repair" the humidifier and then one last photo of me plugging it in (but send the photos all from my wifes email account).

I doubt their legal team would think it was as funny as I would though.
 

woofer

Posts: 70   +14
Nobody mentioned health issues, grinding like this is extremely dangerous: it releases all kinds of dust (silicon, gold, and other materials used in chip making) into the air.

drilling is safer IMHO...
Have you ever drilled any wood or metal objects? That kicks out a lot of particles, too, albeit not as much as serious grinding.