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Toshiba Reveals Self-Wipe HDDs, Hide Your Vids!

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 31 comments

Toshiba is adding Wipe Technology to its Self-Encrypting Drive HDDs.

Monday Toshiba revealed a new technology for its Self-Encrypting Drive (SED) hard drives that allow for secure wiping of sensitive data when a system is powered down, or when the HDD is physically removed from a system. Called Wipe Technology, the new tech could also be used to erase user data before returning a leased system, or before a defunct system is taken out to the trash.

But there's a catch: the data isn't really deleted. When the drive's power supply is severed, Toshiba's Wipe Technology merely invalidates the security key that was originally used to encrypt the stored data. Without the key, data becomes indecipherable and virtually "erased" to would-be snoops. Now nervous administrators won't have to worry about company notebooks loaded with sensitive info being left behind at the local bar.

Although Toshiba's Wipe Technology would be ideal for government use, the company indicated that copier and printer systems vendors would benefit by automatically erasing the SED's internal encryption key, eliminating "data at rest"--sensitive document images stored on the hard drives inside copiers and printers.

"This feature can easily be used prior to system disposal or re-purposing to ensure that private data never leaves the control of the responsible business unit or IT department," Toshiba added. Wipe Technology also reduces overall time investment to secure data, removing the need to use overwriting software to erase data or physically destroy a device.

Toshiba's new Wipe Technology will be included on the 2.5-inch 7200rpm SED HDD announced last month. The drive will supposedly offer on-board encryption and improved access security for both notebooks and desktops. It was also designed with the Trusted Computing Group "Opal" Specification in mind.

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  • 11 Hide
    qwerty45 , August 10, 2010 6:52 PM
    left behind at a local bar... haha where have i heard that before?
Other Comments
  • 0 Hide
    tpi2007 , August 10, 2010 6:33 PM
    Hmmm.. on another note I tried to use the Secure Erase DOS utility from the University of California a few days ago on my WD Caviar Blue 640 GB and it said the drive didn0t have that ATA feature (Built-in data shredding which is much faster and secure) implemented.

    So how's that for security when this subject is little talked about - and by that I mean that all modern ATA/SATA drives should have the Secure Erase command built-in, but don't, along with the fact that no company alerts the user who sells their used HDD's on ebay or disposes of them, thinking that a simple format or file overwrite is enough ?

    I know that the State must love this ignorance because it makes forensic data retrieval a lot easier, but in the end ingnorance is never good for anyone.
  • 8 Hide
    lespy , August 10, 2010 6:34 PM
    no longer will i have to fear the government taking my drives!
  • 4 Hide
    dextermat , August 10, 2010 6:37 PM
    do you really think the government can't get into a locked hard drive lol.

    Im pretty sure a good hacker can get into it without you even knowing about it!!
  • 1 Hide
    nevertell , August 10, 2010 6:38 PM
    Still waiting for a drive with built-in chip for AES encryption.
  • 1 Hide
    jerreece , August 10, 2010 6:38 PM
    You mean to say that putting my credit card bills in my garbage can doesn't erase them permanently??? I might have to start shredding and then burning them all...


    Though deleting the key is a great feature, I'm sure someone who's really, really compelled to do so will find a way to break the code at some point.
  • 11 Hide
    qwerty45 , August 10, 2010 6:52 PM
    left behind at a local bar... haha where have i heard that before?
  • 3 Hide
    Onus , August 10, 2010 7:14 PM
    Bad title; these drives do not "self-wipe" if all the data is still there, even if encrypted.
  • 3 Hide
    bison88 , August 10, 2010 7:17 PM
    nevertellStill waiting for a drive with built-in chip for AES encryption.

    Touche. Intel has already integrated an AES chip set into their i7 processors which TrueCrypt can see a 5x+ performance gain. However, the problem with encryption is for half the folks they are going to take any kind they get and run with it blind while the other half is constantly paranoid about it doing its job and putting all their eggs in one basket. To that effect TrueCrypt has built up such a reputation that many don't want to use the Intel design even though it's faster because they are paranoid that Intel sabotaged the design and isn't "Secure". It's really an unwinnable battle when you speak about encryption.

    However if you combine both Wiping + Encryption it's a pretty solid bet that you will be safe especially if you encrypt a file before performing a DOD 3 execution wipe method. Even that is overkill when it comes to wiping data. Like a good conspiracy theory that is believable, you have to just look past the possibilities and go on living your life with caution and not getting hung up on what may be possible and what isn't, with data it's the same way. I don't think people should fear the government as some mastermind overlords that nothing isn't within their reach.
  • 6 Hide
    hellwig , August 10, 2010 7:20 PM
    I think many of you underestimate the effectiveness of modern encryption. Remember that guy that used PGP to secure his kiddie porn a while back, and the government tried to coerce him to give over his password cause they couldn't break it? The government might not use PGP for state secrets, but its good enough to outwit your everyday law enforcement.

    My point is, any businesses considering this technology (and any potential home users) don't have enemies powerful enough to break this encryption, and thus, wiping the key is good enough for the foreseeable future. Sure, someone, someday will be able to decrypt the data, but by then, will anyone care (will the data be relevant, will the drive still even exist)?
  • 1 Hide
    digitalgriffin , August 10, 2010 8:03 PM
    I know someone who recovers lost hard drive data for a living. You would be surprised how many times something can be overwritten and still recovered. Luckily encryption is previous data dependent. Meaning if you can wipe just 1 character in the current block sequence effectively, then the data is reasonably protected because it will yield vastly different data for the rest of the block, even if all those bytes are successfully recovered.

    I cringe everytime I know millions upon millions of dollars of secret research and data is being thrown out on an unsecure drive.

    Wipe the key, then wipe the disk. (Or degauss it or destroy it!)
  • 3 Hide
    husker , August 10, 2010 8:36 PM
    Cool technology but, seriously... "self-wipe"? Need a better name.
  • 0 Hide
    cdillon , August 10, 2010 8:37 PM
    dextermatdo you really think the government can't get into a locked hard drive lol.Im pretty sure a good hacker can get into it without you even knowing about it!!

    This isn't Hollywood where you can supposedly crack top-secret uber-encryption in 5 minutes. Modern encryption, properly implemented and using strong keys, is currently impossible (in a single or possibly many lifetimes) to crack.
  • 1 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , August 10, 2010 8:43 PM
    There's another catch. Data is NEVER deleted...unless you destroy your hard drive with thermite.
  • 4 Hide
    warezme , August 10, 2010 8:47 PM
    Seagate drives already have that feature...., oh wait, that was not intentional, just a firmware bug.
  • 0 Hide
    lashton , August 10, 2010 9:35 PM
    just do some physical damage to the drive if you are that worried!
  • 1 Hide
    Skippy27 , August 10, 2010 9:39 PM
    This won't work in a general business sense simply because many times in the real world when a laptop / desktop has a hardware problem, then the drive is simply swapped into another machine as a loaner (or permanently) to get the user up and running as fast as possible while the other is repaired.

    If that drive does what it says, then that option is out and if the machine is not bootable for hardware issues not related to the drive then you are hosed.

    So still the better bet is to simply install encryption software such as TrueCrypt or McAfee Endpoint.
  • 0 Hide
    kingssman , August 10, 2010 11:27 PM
    This is actually a good concept technology. Its like a glass plate inside a safe that perma-locks it when a safecracker hits it. This results in a rather lengthy brute-force method to break the encryption. Physically breaking/burning hardrives doesn't destroy all the data since there are labs that will disassemble the hard drive and retrieve the data that way.

    First thing hackers try to do when they have physical access to the HDD is to remove it and make it into a slave read-only drive thus eliminating any OS passwords or security, or they just clone all the data onto a spare HDD through a piece of hardware and solve at their leisure.
  • 2 Hide
    vic20 , August 10, 2010 11:30 PM
    We recycle PCs ar work all the time for customers. We secure their old data on the hard drives with a hammer on the pavement in the alley.
  • 1 Hide
    Skippy27 , August 10, 2010 11:46 PM
    Kingssman, you obviously do not know much about encryption.

    Laptop drives are easy. Take a pick and drive it through the drive. It will shatter into a million pieces. Desktops are much more durable and it doesnt work out so well like that.
  • -1 Hide
    f-14 , August 10, 2010 11:48 PM
    20 lb sledge hammer and a cutting torch and some spot welding, hdd, disc's, bios chips, i feel secure. i find it funny people worry so much about the hdd when every keystroke is recorded on their motherboard. anybody else forget that simple fact, or do you still wipe your hdd after you had your printer whip up something illegal? if you're one of those people i'm laughing.
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