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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!