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Drives using technology to ship in Q1 2010

Toshiba has announced its latest self-encrypting drive technology [PDF] at the RSA conference in San Francisco. The technology is slated to be introduced early in 2010 and supports the Trusted Computing Group Storage Architecture Core Specification along with the Storage Security Subsystem Class Opal Specification.

The technology is built around NIST-certified AES encryption technology that is fully integrated with the drive controller chip. That means that the encryption process takes place at full I/O speeds to deliver performance and maintain typical power consumption figures.

Toshiba's Scott Wright said in a statement, "We believe the key to delivering robust data security lies in the creation of technology standards that advance a secure client storage platform the entire PC ecosystem can support. The TCG Storage specifications provide a standards-based framework enabling storage device makers to work with leading ISVs such as Wave Systems to create very robust client security solutions that are more secure, easier to manage and easier to deploy. “

“To help customers realize these benefits, Toshiba is focused on delivering a full array of hardware-embedded security features to security management solutions providers as evidenced in this first demonstration at the RSA Conference," Wright continued.

Drives supporting the new self-encryption specification with TCG-Opal SSC support will be available in Q1 2010 and Toshiba says that the technology was developed in cooperation with Wave Systems.

Lark Allen from Wave Systems said, "Self-encrypting drives provide a great defense against the growing problem of data breaches today, offering performance and security advantages over aftermarket software encryption solutions. Toshiba is at the forefront of the movement to bring an integrated, hardware-based solution to today’s enterprise. Because Toshiba drives are based on the TCG’s Opal Storage Specification, they’re ideal for deploying across heterogeneous environments."

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By InsanityIdeas on 4/17/2009 8:54:23 AM , Rating: 3
All the posters thus far have misunderstood what this technology does. The drive manufacturers are providing a chip which encrypts and decrypts data on the drive using the AES algorithm, it replaces the work currently done by the CPU to encrypt and decrypt data on the drive.

Software encryption will still work in the same way as it does currently, but software designed/upgraded to make use of these drives will perform their encrypt/decrypt on the drive rather than the CPU.

As such end users will have access to software product specific features like recovery keys, tokens and passwords to access and protect their data.

The only hardware dependancy is likely to exist within the drive, where the drive must be accessed by its own electronics... and this is not an issue as a drive is treated as one unit, a broken drive is a broken drive.

The only unanswered question is if you use a disk backup program to copy all the hard disk data in its encrypted form onto another disk. Would this disk need to have this new technology? Or would the existing encryption software fall back to using the CPU to do encrypt/decrypt in software rather than hardware. My expectation would be that it falls back to the CPU, as that makes sense and is important to data safety and backup.

All this new technology offers is hardware acceleration for existing encryption software, which will speed up all disk operations on encrypted drives. Like any other type of hardware acceleration (e.g. 3D graphics cards) you can do it in software on the main CPU but you wouldn't want to as it slows down the whole computer.

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