Seagate Delivers Encrypting Hard Drive

By Andy Patrizio | Posted March 13, 2007

Seagate on Monday announced a partnership with ASI Computer Technologies to deliver laptops with encrypted hard drives. The advantage of these drives is if the notebook is lost or stolen, the data on the drive is inaccessible.

ASI provides the laptop equivalent of a "white box," or an unbranded PC to value added resellers (VARs) in government, legal, financial, educational, and health care industries, most of which are very sensitive about lost data.

"A lot of VARs are coming back and saying we're delivering notebooks to this space but we're getting asked for added security," said Kent Tibbils, senior director of platform technologies and marketing at ASI. All we've been able to provide is a notebook with a biometric reader and some security software. With this, we can provide these verticals with the assurance they need that their data is secure."

ASI will begin selling laptops with the encryption beginning next month. The drives will come in 80-, 120-, and 160-Gbyte capacities and use an encryption/decryption chip on the drive controller itself.

Because the encryption/decryption is done in hardware instead of software, performance will not suffer. Software-based encryption has traditionally had a severe impact on performance.

The ASI laptops will also use Wave System's Embassy Security Center Trusted Drive Manager software to simplify setup and configuration. The Trusted Drive Manager handles password entry, which is done at boot, not when Windows has loaded.

The drive knows it can only be accessed by authorized software, so even if you take it out of the laptop and connect it to another computer, it cannot be accessed, according to Lark Allen, executive vice president of corporate development at Wave. "All of the access and password control is in the drive, not the OS. Can't boot it from another system," he told internetnews.com.

Joni Clark, notebook product marketing manager for Seagate, said the 128-bit AES encryption is tough enough to meet government security mandates for encryption and will help customers conform to new regulations and legislation on data encryption.

She also said it would eventually move beyond the laptop. "This can be leveraged on desktop and enterprise storage as well. We are strategizing on how to pull that together. So you will see it on other platforms," she said.

Adapted from internetnews.com.

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