Seagate To Offer Full Disk Encryption

Storage vendor Seagate announced today that it plans to offer disk drives incorporating its DriveTrust full disk encryption technology, a hardware-based security system which scrambles all data and software stored on a hard drive and, in theory, makes it impossible for unauthenticated users to read or start up from the drive. And naturally, Seagate is targeting notebooks and other frequently stolen portable devices with its first DriveTrust-enabled Momentus 2.5-inch hard drives, and is initially aiming the technology at enterprise and government organizations where data security is an ever-growing concern.

“Securing data on the hard drive is an innovative, yet commonsense approach that will simplify the deployment and the adoption of security for data at rest,” said Charles Kolodgy, research director of security products for analyst group IDC, in a statement from Seagate. “As storage and security converge, solutions like Seagate’s DriveTrust Technology are leading the way by providing organizations with the strong, easy-to-use security they need to protect their data assets.”

Seagate’s DriveTrust system protects an entire drive using AES and TripleDES encryption, public key cryptography (RSA), as well as SHA-A authentication. Rather than protecting selected software or files, the entire drive is encrypted, with security functions operating separately from the hard drive mechanism so drive performance isn’t compromised. At a basic level, using DriveTrust technology is as simple as setting up a password for authentication, although Seagate’s SDK will enable platform vendors to develop more full-featured access control, multi-factor authentication, encryption keys, and other forms of authentication. DriveTrust technology can also erase drive contents, making it simple for organizations to redeploy or retire drives without the costs of wiping or destroying the mechanisms.

Seagate hasn’t announced any partners for the DriveTrust technology yet, but says “many” PC makers will be offering the technology with their systems. Seagate is also working with software developers to support DriveTrust-savvy enterprise-wide password management systems and other support technology.

Seagate’s first DriveTrust-enabled mechanism, a 2.5-inch Momentus 5400 FDE.2 drive in 80, 120, and 160 GB capacities, should be available to notebook manufactures at the beginning of 2007, which means it might hit markets during the first quarter of 2007. No pricing information was disclosed, but sources estimate the added cost of DriveTrust-protected drives will be similar to other encryption and authentication systems, and probably come in at less than $100 per computer.