Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

(Really) Deleting Documents

PostedOctober 11, 2009

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Randy Atkins: A new system called "Vanish" adds a secret key, or digital code, to your transmissions on the web.  Yoshi Kohno, a University of Washington professor, says recipients can open it...until the key becomes inaccessible.

Yoshi Kohno: We actually take that key and effectively shatter it into thousands of different pieces.

Randy Atkins: The pieces are randomly sprinkled throughout the Internet on peer-to-peer file-sharing networks, and can be pieced together for a while but...

Yoshi Kohno: As people come and go and this network changes over time the pieces of the key that we have stored in this network just slowly disappear.

Randy Atkins: ...like a message written in sand on the beach.  And, without the key, the information can never again be opened.  With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, 103-point-5 F-M and WTOP-dot-com.


"Vanish" is still in the testing stage, but the technology could be widely available in a couple of years.