You are correct ... they are paranoid with a capital "P". Lots of reading ... watching your electric consumption, putting CDs / DVDs in a microwave to destroy them ... I personally burn and melt every one of mine when I no longer need them or update a DVD image backup ... nothing "top secret" on them, just my XP setup but I just like knowing they are "gone" forever.
Just pulling out some of the discussion comments:
It's easy to disable a builtin camera (especially if you're not using it at all): cover the camera with a piece of duct tape. It's slightly harder to destroy a builtin mic, but most of them don't require too much effort with a paperclip or tack to destroy the diaphragm.
I believe that a microwave oven will make optical media quite unreadable before disposal. Try 10 seconds. I'm not sure if the microwave is safe for food use after you destroy a boatload of DVD's, though.
A hammer would also work well to destroy CDs and DVDs. If one were truly paranoid, they would distribute pieces of the broken media into multiple bags and dispose of said bags in widely separated parts of town.
I have one PC at home running Windows XP that connects to the internet maybe 2-3 times per year. It's over eight years old and other than one harddrive failure is about as trouble-free as anything running Microsoft can be. Friends don't understand why I never use it for web surfing but from a security and up-time standpoint the benefits far outweigh the problems with an air gap.
A conventional (gas or electric) oven is also a good way to securely "dispose" of optical and magnetic media. 450F for 15-30 minutes usually does it. I use a foil-lined cookie tray to preserve the tray... And do this when nobody is home for a few hours afterward so the "fumes" have time to disperse.
For flash memory, a hammer works pretty well.
I think the ultra-paranoid way would also avoid - connecting the system to the wall socket to prevent any manipulation of the power supply or any traces by consumption of electricity
- use shielding wallpaper in an empty basement room with no windows
- live in a house older than 1950 (only to be sure that no electronic bugs were built-in with the cement)
There are a lot of comments ... haven't read them all ... several mention Qubes. Only for 64 bit computers ... if I understand it.
Qubes is an open-source operating system designed to provide strong security for desktop computing. Qubes is based on Xen, the X Window System, and Linux, and can run most Linux applications and utilize most of the Linux drivers.
* 64-bit Intel or AMD processor (x86_64 aka x64 aka AMD64)
* 4 GB RAM
* 32 GB disk space
Edited by monroe, Yesterday, 07:04 AM.