Toshiba brings self-erasing hard drives to the market

CNET is reporting that Toshiba will soon be launching a brand new line of hard drives which can either delete or protect data if the drive ends up in the wrong hands. Scott Wright, a product manager of storage devices at Toshiba, said "digital systems vendors recognize the need to help their customers protect sensitive data from leakage or theft, Toshiba's security technologies provide designers of copiers, printers, PCs, and other systems with new capabilities to help address these important security concerns."

The new collection of drives, featuring AES 256bit encryption, will contain technology which is able to "detect if the drive is connected to an unknown and undefined computer or other system." If that scenario is detected then the data can either be locked down so the user is unable to view it or the whole drive can be totally wiped. The article reports that the technology can be applied to "specific data on the drive" and that the user will be able to "choose how and when to render the data indecipherable".

While these hard drives may not be aimed at home users, governments and corporations may find them to be a valuable tool to protect sensitive information and stop it from being seen by those without authorisation. The MKxx61GSYS SATA family of drives, ranging from 160GB up to 640GB,  will be based on specifications from the Trusted Computing Group which tells companies how data should be protected at an enterprise level.

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30 Comments

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netsendjoe said,
What happens if I push this button? OMG I JUST LOST EVERYTHING!?!

yeah, cept for the whole pulling it from system A and installing in system B and triggering your 'button' config. rm -rf /* is a MUCH more destructive button combo than this drive's protection

Solid idea tho, hope it takes off for smart/memory cards. Digital photos and contact info are valuable to a consumer.

Given what I have seen about the reliability of Toshiba hard drives in notebooks, I'd have sworn they had released this technology at least 2 years ago...

Zanaffer said,
Given what I have seen about the reliability of Toshiba hard drives in notebooks, I'd have sworn they had released this technology at least 2 years ago...

^ How true

It says in the article this is aimed more for government and corporations. But I mean, if someone is able to physically steal just the hard drive, shouldn't those entities be more worried about why someone is able to physically steal the drive in the first place? I mean, if you have data that is SO sensitive that it needs to self destruct if in the wrong hands, shouldn't these rooms with these machines be locked up in the first place? Somebody with direct access to these computers anyways could probably just copy the data to a USB thumb drive or something.

Tha Bloo Monkee said,
<snip>

No security scheme is 100% infallible, whether methods be physical &/or non-physical. That's the thing about the real world-- some things are completely unpredictable (from a practical, rather than mathematically theoretical, perspective). Stuff goes wrong, people make mistakes, microcomputer systems make mistakes &/or fail.

kizuran said,

Stuff goes wrong, people make mistakes, microcomputer systems make mistakes &/or fail.

I could say the same about these hard drives erasing themselves, lol.

"Hm, something seems to be wrong with my computer. Let's put the hard drive in another computer to see if it works ok and back up some data."
*SELF DESTRUCT SEQUENCE ACTIVATED*

If the hard drive is actually developed that would definitely be helpful to governments and corporations. The idea is definitely very cool, but I wonder if there are any current safeguards that are helpful with protecting data now? Also, the execution must be perfect or there'd be some cases of erasing information by accident which would be a computer user's worst nightmare. Keep us updated!

i sure hope that they are planning to roll this out on PORTABLE hard drives?


because , by the time someone can actually open my computer case and steal my internal hard disks, i have alot more to worry about...
like everyone else pointed out above, this is meant for stopping other people from getting your data, not for backing up your stuff or anything...

I don't think I like this ability. All you need to do is get a virus that fools the hard drive into thinking it's in the wrong hands and triggering the self-erase feature.

Hardware encryption tied to your computer's other hardware. What can possibly go wrong?

The irony is that if I want to upgrade my motherboard, for example, I'll need to take a backup of my disk, and then my data will be stored on an unecrypted drive.

Solution:

1. Buy a regular (and undoubtedly cheaper) hard disk with plenty of space that doesn't self-wipe.
2. Download TrueCrypt and create a new volume.
3. Store sensitive data on TrueCrypt volume safe in the knowledge that you information is encrypted, and can still be retrieved if your motherboard dies.

This is not intended for home PC. If you need to change the MB you're screwed anyway if you don't have redundancy as the server will be offline.

You can always recover data from a backup or redundancy.

considering that this use encryption, i would assume that the owner can have a decrypt key/password that they can use to retrieve the data without self erasing when the original computer dies. it could be something like that blackberry where it allows you 10 tries before it self erases all the data.

iKenndac said,
The same as if you accidentally lock yourself out of *any* decent security system - you're screwed.

Yea but there is a difference between getting locked out, and all of your data being erased.

Choto Cheeta said,
what happens when you by mistake end up locking your self out..

Companies usually backup data in a safe place outside of the cie. This is only to prevent thiefs from accessing the data. Data can be recovered from backup if needed.

This not intended for home PC.

LaP said,

Companies usually backup data in a safe place outside of the cie. This is only to prevent thiefs from accessing the data. Data can be recovered from backup if needed.

This not intended for home PC.

when talking about enterprise solution,

didn't we already have that TPM chip based bit locker which may work with any storage ??? secondly what about could storage where you dont actually need to store critical data on your hdd..