Ship Data Recorders
Humans have called them black boxes since we first developed flight. They were neither boxes nor were they black. They were painted bright orange to make them more visible at the scene of a crash. When we took to the void, however, it didn't matter what color they were. Space is big. If it even slightly finds itself drifting, it's gone. For this reason, any well-made ship will have at least three black boxes, hidden away in centralized critical systems of the vessel. They are now painted black to make them harder to find. If a ship gets destroyed in battle, a black box will have crucial data stored inside. This data can be anything from logged communication, technological data, military ciphers, and more. A black box contains all relevant information about a vessel. It's the vessel's DNA. It lists anything and everything that could be relevant to the ship's capabilities, mission, and crew. It also logs information regarding its demise. Salvaging one is like striking gold, especially during a war. Most military ships have measures in place to sabotage this information if not collected in the right amount of time.
The black box
The box is made of three-dimensional, porous graphene. It's ten times stronger than steel but significantly lighter. The box, itself, houses the collected data, but it's always connected to a hub, a network of wires that stretch across the ship collecting and transferring that data to the drives in the box. The inner space of the box varies from species to species, but almost always has some form of liquid to help absorb impact, prevent extreme heat outside from frying the drives, and to keep the drives cool should they be the source of that heat. All one needs to do is crack the box open, or connect it to one's ship. The latter is advised, especially if you're messing with something salvaged from military vessels. There are usually countermeasures in place to prevent access. In this case, upon removing the black box, the port to the original drive slides back and a second port takes its place. A dummy drive could unleash all kinds of malicious software in your ship's systems. Imagine stumbling on empty ships, the crew drifting through space after the entire ship vented itself for no reason.
Salvaging a black box puts you in a good position, but managing to get inside and poke around the data is even better. You can sell a black box for a high price, but if there's a war on, you can pit both sides against each other. While lucrative, it's a dangerous game to play. Notifying anyone of what you have is risky in itself. They could just board and take it by force, or attack and retrieve it from the wreckage. If you know what you're doing and have a little luck, you may end up with a bidding war on your hands. It's an easy con to pull off. One side wants their data back, the other wants to exploit it. If you open the box and retrieve it, you can copy the data. That way everyone wins and you're twice as rich.