Preventing Data Theft From the Swap File

Satheesh C B | Wednesday, July 08, 2009 | 2 comments

By default, windows manages the swap file dynamically, meaning that Windows increases and decreases its size as needed.It  continues to store data even after the PC has been shut down.Important thing is the swap file might contain confidential information.Even though  this data is not easily accessible, there is a chance for hackers to  read this data, with tools like ‘Poolfinder’. If your notebook  is lost or stolen while you  traveling , the risk is huge.

Ensure Windows destroys the swap data while shutting down.In XP Professional you have to edit  the  ‘Local Security Policy’ settings .

  • Open ‘Start > Control Panel’ and click on ‘Performance and Maintenance’ and then on ‘Administrative Tools’.
  • Open the ‘Local Security Policy’ by double-clicking on it.In the left pane tree structure, navigate to ‘Security Settings | Local Policies | Security Options’.
  • In the right pane, double-click on the policy ‘Shutdown: Clear virtual memory pagefile’. In the following dialog, select ‘Enabled’ and confirm with ‘OK’.

7-8-2009 8-13-08 PM


In XP Home and Vista Home, you have to log on with administrator rights.

  • In Windows XP Home, open the registry editor with ‘Start>| Run, ‘regedit.exe’ and a click on ‘OK’. Navigate to the key

‘HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management’.

  • The right side will display the value‘Clear-PageFileAtShutdown’. Open it by double-clicking on it.
  • In the ‘Edit DWORD Value’ dialog, set the ‘Value data’ field to ‘1’ and confirm with ‘OK’.

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After restarting the system, Windows will henceforth overwrite the contents of the swap file ‘Pagefile.sys’ when shutting down.Depending on the file size and system performance, the shut down takes a few seconds longer.

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