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Toshiba unveils self-encrypted, auto-erasing hard drives

updated 10:35 am EDT, Wed April 13, 2011

Toshiba SED hard drive can automatically wipe

Toshiba on Wednesday brought out a new secure hard drive that could eliminate many of the risks of a lost or stolen notebook. The 2.5-inch MKxx61GSYG lineup is not only self-encrypting but can be set to wipe data automatically under certain conditions. It can erase the contents on command but also on a power reset or even if attached to an unknown computer.

The method could be the most vital for travelers with vital data on a notebook who know that the drive couldn't simply be switched to another computer. It may also ease privacy fears with copiers and printers by preventing the theft of documents stored on the drives.

Capacities range from 160GB through to 640GB and otherwise carries the performance typical of a modern notebook hard drive, with a 7,200RPM spin speed and a 16MB buffer fairly common for portable disks.

Mass production is due to start before the end of the spring. Toshiba hasn't named customers or said how readily available the drives will be as stand-alone sales.





By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. Haroscarfel

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 2007

    +1

    great idea but…

    It reminds me of the remote start and shutdown feature of cars I may sound like a paranoid old man, but I dont trust it.

    For data on hard drives. I practice smart data management. I keep highly sensitive items separated from something stealable and noticeable. Still I see a big market for this device. will be interesting to see if any accidental data wipes happen.

  1. prl99

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Mar 2009

    0

    Opal SSC SED

    I currently use the Seagate SED for work and the only vendor who supports it is WinMagic because of the Mac's use of EFI, not BIOS. WinMagic also supports Opal SSC drives so we'll see when they support this one. Right now it only is certified under FIPS 197. I checked the NIST website for FIPS certification, http://csrc.nist.gov/groups/STM/cmvp/inprocess.html, and found nothing from Toshiba in either in process or completed. This doesn't mean they aren't using someone else's encryption process but the Toshiba website only says it follows the Trusted Computing Group's spec, which also isn't list by NIST.

    It's good to see other vendors coming out with SEDs but in order for the government to use them, they have to be FIPS 140-2 compliant.

    As for the ability to wipe if attached to another computer, that will be interesting since I also want to use these as backup drives, which should be able to function on other computers if you use the correct authentication process.

  1. phillymjs

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jun 2000

    0

    There must be a back door...

    ...so computer forensics people can recover evidence. Toshiba just won't tell anyone about it.

    At least, there must be, if these drives are going to be made available to the general public.

    Otherwise, every criminal who keeps computerized records and every pedophile who traffics in kiddie p*** will be lining up to buy these drives in the belief that if anyone tampers with it, poof! Bye bye evidence.

  1. Roehlstation

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2001

    +7

    Believe me

    Most of my users don't need help deleting their drives.

  1. prl99

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Mar 2009

    +1

    original Seagate drives didn't have back door

    The version of Seagate drive I'm using doesn't have a back door. Lose the key and your drive is history. If Toshiba built their drive the same way Seagate does, data is always encrypted on the drive but the switch to allow access is delivered turned on. This allows anyone to read and write to the encrypted drive but the data remains encrypted. Of course, this doesn't mean anything if everyone has access. Once you turn on password access, the application doing it generate a key based on the hardware encryption key of the drive. This is the only key pair that will now decrypt the data. This also affects reformatting of the drive, which you currently can't do unless you have the key.

    Seagate ver2 SED drives are supposed to have the ability to allow reformatting of the drive so it can be used again. This won't bring the data back, however.

    Toshiba might configure their drives differently but this is how an internal Seagate project manager (more or less) described the functionality of the drive to me stressing the need to make sure the key is kept in a safe place (copy the key to another device for safe keeping or use a managed system that includes multiple keys per disk).

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