Seagate debuts content protection technology in hard drives

Orlando (FL) - Seagate today announced a first hard drive that integrates a hardware- and software-based content protection technology: Called "Drive Trust," the security platform can prevent unauthorized access to data stored on the drive. It promises users a greater peace of mind when storing critical data, but the technology is very likely to end up as a new digital rights management (DRM) solution as well.

Drive Trust has been developed as a complementary platform for the security specifications of the Trusted Computing Group (TCG) and Seagate expects the platform result into a formal TCG storage specification that is scheduled for public release in early 2007. The company describes the approach as a "fully automated hardware-based security with a programming foundation," that enables content owner's software developers to take advantage of the drive's data security features on their own terms.

Locking down data has become an increasingly important topic in a time when more and more data is exchanging hands and data theft is a growing concern. In addition to already existing encryption and copy protection mechanisms, securing data directly on the hard drive is an almost logical step. And according to Seagate, Drive Trust is easy to manage, as it "automatically protects all drive data, not just selected partitions or files, at all times, and its security functions operate independently of the hard drive, preserving the hard drive's full performance." Also the company claims that the technology, which is marketed as a "feature" of certain hard drives, does not require any security patches, updates or upgrades.

The first drive to offer Drive Trust is Seagate's DB35 series, which is primarily used in digital video recorders. In the first quarter of 2007, Seagate will add a Drive Trust version of its 2.5" Momentus 5400 FDE notebook drive.

As of now the impact of the technology is unclear as its use will largely depend on content owners and their ideas how to leverage Drive Trust. However, the fact that the technology is available first in a consumer electronics hard drive at least indicates that we will see DRM related uses before there will be any applications that will be focused on securing critical content on corporate notebooks.