Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Seagate To Encrypt Data On Hard Drives 321

Krishna Dagli writes "Seagate, using their new DriveTrust Technology, will automatically encrypt every bit of data stored on the hard drive and require users to have a key, or password, before being able to access the disk drive."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Seagate To Encrypt Data On Hard Drives

Comments Filter:
  • No back doors? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pieterh ( 196118 ) on Monday October 30, 2006 @02:38PM (#16645425) Homepage
    Seems unlikely.

    Would Seagate really attempt to market a drive that was going to protect pedophiles and terrorists? (Not to mention us ordinary citizens who don't wholly and utterly trust the organs of the state to act systematically in our best interests.)

    If so, it's a brave move. But somehow it just seems so unlikely...
    • by dilute ( 74234 )
      You betchum. This is not going to last long enough to make it to market witout a back door for "National Security". No way, no how.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      >Tin hat Even if they claim to use an industry standard encryption .. I still wont know if the key can be secretly stored in a retrievable fashion in a EEPROM on the HDD hardware. Where are these drives made?

      The best security IMHO is linux with GPG and mix 'n matched off the shelf hardware. This way the HDD doesnt know what/where the encryption key is, or even that the data is being encrypted.

      In my opinion, mass distributed software based encryption is easier to trust (because it's easier to verify the i
    • when you need to hack the encryption...remember: Think of the Children!
    • by aarku ( 151823 )
      Backdoors are the reverse of doomsday devices. In the words of Doctor Stangelove:
      Of course, the whole point of a Doomsday Machine is lost, if you *keep* it a *secret*! Why didn't you tell the world, EH?
      The whole point of a backdoor is to keep it a secret! And it's pretty darn hard to disprove something's existence.
    • Would Seagate really attempt to market a drive that was going to protect pedophiles and terrorists?
      Of course, some people might reasonably believe encrypted hard drives such as this could help stop the corporate data leak of private customer information. But alas, hysteria rules the day.

      I fear that at some point Joe Public will think "encryption = pedophiles and terrorists". Maybe that's already the case.
      • by Gilmoure ( 18428 )
        DHS has mandated all government laptops with PII need to have encryption on them. Hard drive encryption just means it'll be faster and easier to implement.
    • Yes (Score:3, Insightful)

      by unity100 ( 970058 )
      Just as the gun manufacturers manufacture guns that are as easily used by psychopaths as they are used by legitimate owners.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Whenever you see the word "trust" in name or catch-phrase for computer hardware these days, to tell whether it's really for security or whether it its for a DRM scheme, you have to ask, Who is trusting whom to de what?

      To meet any reasonsable security policy one would need a "yes" to each of the questions: Is the source code for the encryption routines provided? Is a complete API provided? And can the owner of the hardware verifiably replace every digital key in the device?

      If the answer to any of these is no
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Calling Seagate Tech Support:

      Seagate: Welcome to Seagate, the current wait time is... 12 days, 6 hours and 32 minutes.. please hold....

      *Music Plays*
      *12 days later*

      Seagate Tech: Welcome to Seagate Tech Support, How can I assist you today?
      Customer: hi ummm... I lost my password for this new Encrypted Hard Drive, can you help me?
      Seagate: Sure can, ok at the prompt type the following: Lieutenant General Keith B. Alexander
      Customer: hmmm ok, HEY!! it works thank you!!
      Seagate: Not a problem, have a wo

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      I knew Seagate was in league with the devil. Did you know that Seagate is an anagram of Teageas, the ancient Norse name for Lord of Darkness? Seagate should be ashamed of themselves putting the security of our nation, myself and my loved ones ones at risk. And for what? Sheer corporate greed - the bastards.

      And while we're at it let's all stop using SSL and the like. Anyone who continues to do so is clearly a terroristic pedophile and may be gunned down in cold blood; better safe than sorry I say.

  • Wow (Score:3, Insightful)

    by OverlordQ ( 264228 ) on Monday October 30, 2006 @02:38PM (#16645429) Journal
    Laptop computers with DriveTrust-based hard drives would prompt users to type in a password before booting up the machine. Without the password, the hard drive would be useless, Seagate officials said.

    Even data-recovery specialists would not be able to help if the assigned password somehow gets lost, said Scott Shimomura, a senior product marketing manager at Seagate.

    Good thing passwords are never forgotten.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by interiot ( 50685 )

      Good thing people have backup systems in case their mobile computer gets stolen or faces some other mishap.

      Really, if you've got valuable enough data to be encrypting it, you'd be nuts to not have it properly backed up as well. Though I guess bad decisions happen...

      • What % of home users actually do backups? I'm not talking about % of people on /. since that number will be vastly larger then if you sample JRandom "I broke the cup holder" User.
        • by orasio ( 188021 )
          Home users?
          Why would an "I broke the cupholder" home user use an encrypted drive?
          Encryption takes some knowledge to actually work reliably, and the dumb home user that you invented for your own purposes (noone was talking about that) doesn't probably have it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jbarr ( 2233 )
      So much for allowing my remote-access computer at home to auto-boot....
      • This is actually a very good point.

        All of these solutions are mostly aimed at PCs used by users right at the local console, but I could see a lot of good reasons for wanting encryption on a server, or other colocated computer. Or maybe I just want to make sure that my desktop workstation doesn't hang forever after a power outage, waiting for someone to put a password in on its local console.

        It would be nice if there was a way to mount one of these drives by giving it a password over a secure networked conne
  • Mis-named (Score:2, Insightful)

    by proc_tarry ( 704097 )
    DriveMisTrust sounds more like it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ergo98 ( 9391 )
      DriveMisTrust sounds more like it.

      If you can feel relatively confident that a lost or stolen laptop (or desktop for that matter -- they get stolen too) will not in any way reveal confidental data, then I would say it gives you a lot more trust in the media, hence the name.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by proc_tarry ( 704097 )
        I was thinking more of keeping my data private from the nefarious plans of others, and likewise our mis-trust of them. Because I need to OnStar car, ADT my home, V-chip my kids, and now DriveTrust my data. All to make me feel secure.

        It's all irrational fear perpetrated by the bogeyman.
  • FTA: Though DriveTrust is proprietary.... Not much use unless it's published and described - unless they do that most serious users are going to discount it. I hope it's actually robust though as there will be an awful lot of people relying on this for home use. How many of them are going to have that nice warm fuzzy "I'm safe" feeling and therefore not bother with all the other good things like patching and spyware-awareness etc.
    • by udderly ( 890305 ) *
      The way I see it, there will be a whole lot of people losing their data.

      Most idiotic home users that I have the misfortune to deal with bring their computer to me when the hard drive is making horrible noises, Windows is broken or there some hardware problem.

      Then, and only then, do they worry about how they're going to recover the five years worth of digital photos and financial information that they have never backed up. Since half of them don't even remember their email passwords, I highly doubt t
      • The way I see it, there will be a couple people losing their data.

        Most idiotic home users won't know enough about it to use this tech. Either they'll be specialty drives or it will require an added bit of voodoo to enable the features, but either way it won't be used on most systems. Most IT departments will be smart enough to know when to use this technology, and the rest will be too dumb to worry about technology at all.

        There will be a few tinkerers who, out of misguided fantasies of being James Bond,

    • while listening on KCBS on my way to work this morning, an burp length interview with Seagate claims the encryption used is AES.
      • That's nice. We need the code for the implementation of AES so we know there's no backdoors or introduced flaws.
  • The news should be that this was announced some time a go, but is still delayed. I've been reading press releases (such as this, sadly undated example [seagate.com]) since March of this year (yes, almost 8 months a go). No release date given in the article provided by the submitter, but I've heard rumours of Q2 2007.

    This should be good when it's released, but I've long since stopped holding my breath.
  • Watch out when looking at disk protection software. Some companies, like Maxtor, sell security functionality (called DriveLock, among others), which is really just "ATA Security Mode." This is NOT encryption, it is a feature of the disks circuitry whereby the drive will not output any data until the "password" has been provided. Some drives even ship with default master passwords included. Maxtor's product even includes a "I lost my password!" feature, making the security of the product completely worthless
    • I think it's much better to use something like truecrypt for hard drive compression, because you can scrutinize the code, and know that what you're getting is a secure product. However, I think it would be nice to have something like this if it would speed up the disk access. If there's a dedicated cryptoprocessor on the drive, to encrypt and decrypt the data, then performance could be a lot better than using your plain old CPU for the task.
  • by bbernard ( 930130 ) on Monday October 30, 2006 @02:44PM (#16645569)
    Because I don't want the added lag of hardware en/decryption with every write/read.

    Because I don't want one more password per computer that I, as an IT admin, need to keep track of.

    Because I don't want even the operating system, swap, graphics, and music files encrypted.

    Because new technology like this *never* causes any issues with the system's operation.

    No, not in my IT department.
    • by Vellmont ( 569020 ) on Monday October 30, 2006 @03:02PM (#16645933) Homepage
      Unless you're handing classified information, have employees take home thousands of credit cards on laptops, or thousands of medical records on laptops you're probbably not really the target for a drive like this.

      If your company does handle this kind of data (or worse), maybe you should be re-examining your role as a sys-admin or manager. It's not all about making your life easier you know. There are of course risks and costs to maintaining a database of passwords, small performance costs for encrypting/decrypting the HD, and possible incompatibilities. There's also risks and costs associated with someone losing the laptop and the big headlines in the newspaper about how your company now looks like a bunch of ass-hats for losing 200,000 CC #s, 50,000 medical records, etc. Security and administration is about managing risk. If the overall risk is lower with this drive (and the price is right), you do it.
    • by Junta ( 36770 )
      -added lag: probably insignificant particularly implemented in hardware. Software is for most people not noticable, if the hardware chip throughput can encrypt/decrypt at a rate that saturates platter read/write rate, no throughput penalties and the latency penalty is probable a couple of orders of maginitude smaller than the seek speed.

      -That's why this is marketed towards laptops, and as an IT admin, Your policy should be fairly clear that laptop data recovery is best-effort (drives crash fairly frequentl
    • by JustASlashDotGuy ( 905444 ) on Monday October 30, 2006 @03:10PM (#16646081)
      Interesting... You don't want it in your IT Dept, yet we are eagerly awaiting it in our IT Dept. We're not going to go with the Seagate solution, however we are eagerly awaiting the release of Vista so we can take advantage of the BitLocker Encryption. I work for a CPA firm; privacy is pretty important.... especially when you have auditors in the field and the occasional laptop getting stolen. The slight slowness in full harddrive encryption is well worth the price. 99.9% of the users will never notice it.... Excel/Word isn't exactly a HD intensive application. And yes... in the past (5 years ago), we did full HD encryption and it wasn't bad at all (slowness wise). The only issues came into play if you wanted to remove the encyption, or if the drive started to fail and you wanted to boot off a boot disk to grab your data (it was possible, but cumbersome). Hopefully Vista's solution will be more robust. If the trials work out as we hope, full encryption firm wide will be the next step (possibly within 6 to 8 months).
      • So you want to keep auditors out of your files.

        Part of me does not like this because companies like Enron and Diebold would have a field day with this. No proof of anything and timb bombed documents protected by TCPA to delete evidence would make it impossible to prove guilt.
        • by booch ( 4157 )
          Err, I think you mis-interpreted what he was saying. He was saying that the firm has auditors in the field, who need their laptops protected.
        • by JustASlashDotGuy ( 905444 ) on Monday October 30, 2006 @03:49PM (#16646811)
          So you want to keep auditors out of your files.

          What? Sorry if that's the impression you got, I must have mis-typed. We aren't trying to keep auditors out of the files, we are trying to keep thieves out of the files. We've had laptops stolen while our auditors were out in the field before. The last thing we want is for our client's data to find its way into the wild. If we were working on your tax return, wouldn't you prefer that *if* it was copied to a laptop HD, that the laptop HD be encrypted? Protecting information if very important to us.

          Encryption wouldn't have helped cover up Enron. Even if your drives were 100% encrypted, you still have paper copied the Feds could go after. Even if you shred all your paper (which would look very fishy, even in a 'paperless office'), you still have backup tapes. And if every single one of your backup tapes were encrypted AND you just happen to have 'forgot' the password to the tapes as well... well, I think the judge will have you for obstruction at that point.

          Trust me.. accountants aren't the most tech savvy individuals. They just do their job and get the hell outta here. Enron and AA had some bad people at the top. A few bad apples which hurt a lot of very good people. They may have been very good at fudging some numbers, but when it comes to "tech savvy'ness".... well, there's a reason that in all the scandle movies.. the only things accounts know how to do is shred paper.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bbernard ( 930130 )
        My point is really more about this being an overkill solution, and poorly thought-out as well.

        1. I've seen all sorts of problems with encrypting certain system files on a hard drive. Perhaps that's because the encryption has been software based, but key system files seem to have problems when encrypted.

        2. How will you enforce strong passwords? How will you enforce password change policies? Can you even change the password once it has been set? If the user and IT agree on a passowrd, can we be sure tha
      • Hey, JustA SlashDotGuy,

        How about the Encrypting File System that's already available in Windows XP Pro? Just wondering how the BitLocker is something worth eagery awaiting...
        • How about the Encrypting File System that's already available in Windows XP Pro? Just wondering how the BitLocker is something worth eagery awaiting...

          To my knowledge, EFS doesn't allow you to encrypt the entire OS partition. We'd want the entire drive to be encrypted and I believe this is something allowed with BitLocker.
      • Why are you waiting for Vista when you can encrypt your data now with TrueCrypt? I would trust something like this a lot more than Bitlocker from a recovery standpoint. With bitlocker, you have to rely on Windows to unlock the data. With Truecrypt, you could hook the drive up to a Linux machine and still be able to read the data. I'm not trying to start a Windows/Linux war here, I'm just saying you'd be much better off not trusting MS to properly encrypting your data without any back doors, and being al
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LordKronos ( 470910 )
      Because I don't want even the operating system, swap, graphics, and music files encrypted.

      If you don't want the swap encrypted, then why bother encrypting any of the data at all?
  • by Zaatxe ( 939368 ) on Monday October 30, 2006 @02:46PM (#16645605)
    ... you can hand it to them with a grim smile on your face!
    • by neoform ( 551705 )
      Uhh, this doesn't include plausible deniability.. if they _know_ the info is encrypted then they'll just make the judge tell you to give them the password.

      you're much better off using something that cannot be identified as being encrypted.
      • by Zaatxe ( 939368 )
        True, but I meant to be funny. I have no idea where this Insightful mod point came from!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Junta ( 36770 )
      And they will thank you and subpoena Seagate for the encryption key. I suspect they will try to be functionally compatible with the current hard drive password commands used commonly today, and that means the actual key would be stored permamently on the controller board, encrypted using your password, but if Seagate chose to retain that key themselves, you could still be in a world of hurt.

      If you actually care about protection from governments, legal actions from private parties, or malicious foreign enti
  • I don't need a harddrive that I could accidently lock myself out of.
    • This is exactly why I demanded that the dealer remove all of the locks when I bought a new car.

      Actually I insisted he completely remove the doors, but he came up with some bullcrap about how the car would no longer be street legal and that he couldn't let me drive it off the lot.
  • Progressive decoding (Score:3, Interesting)

    by soft_guy ( 534437 ) on Monday October 30, 2006 @03:03PM (#16645971)
    There was a technique that was described on Slashdot a while ago that allowed you to turn over some crypto keys and it would decode a little bit more of the disk each time. That way, your opponent is never sure you have handed over all the keys and it makes it possible to hand over just enough keys to convince a judge. It would be nice if this drive supported that technique so that you would turn over just the first key if taken to court.
  • Roadmap To DRM'd PC (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mpapet ( 761907 ) on Monday October 30, 2006 @03:03PM (#16645975) Homepage
    This is one more step toward owning a computer you no longer control.

    It's not about end-user encryption, it's about the OS using encryption in some form to eliminate your personal freedoms.

    The price will be right though, so most users won't know or care.

    The DRM noose around the average user's neck is being sold like a nice, new necktie. Most users will have one in 3-5 years. Then it is only a matter of tightening the noose. If you want it loosened, pay and pay some more.

    Finally, there is no market mechanism so the price of loosening the noose around your neck is made by the producer. (A price maker: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monopoly#Coercive_mon opoly [wikipedia.org])

    If you value your personal freedom, you will switch to something freer, then you will tell your friends and help them to do the same. Perhaps a Linux or BSD desktop is a good start.
    • This is one more step toward owning a computer you no longer control.

      The product mentioned in TFA is all about controlling your computer and your data and keeping unauthorised people from abusing it. What kind of crack is the parent smoking?!


  • I'll take one for my laptop and several for my desktop machine (which sounds like it's not currently avaialble) as long as it is transparent to the OS and doesn't kill performance.

    I deal with a lot of my customer's data from time to time and it would be nice to have extra safeguards in place IF my laptop or desktop machine was stolen. It would also be nice to be able to protect all my source code. Just because they can't log into the OS doesn't mean they can't copy the data off the drive. This would pre
  • ...but allow you to agree to someone else's password, oh, say RIAA,MPAA, etc.

    This can keep YOU from accessing the data on the hard drive, you know, the data you gave away your rights for when you clicked that license or bought that TIVO, etc.

    Simply couple that technology with Trusted Computing and you no longer control the hardware you payed for.

    I am sure this is obvious to those already in-the-know, but is meant as a Public Service.

  • There have been passwords available to lock access to IDE drives for some time now. While this is not the same thing as encryption I predict the same problems will arise from it, namely that users will lose access to their own data. When this happens you will have several choices:

    1) Contact Seagate and ask for help. They'll tell you it's impossible to access the drive. After all, it's much better for them if you have to purchase a new one.
    2) Contact some 3rd party service that is able to crack the drive. Si
  • We'll see if it's A) a real verifiable encryption standard being used and B) if they keep a back door open. The article hints that there is no "master" password and that if you lose your password your toast. If that's true then great, if not then this technology isn't worth a dam.

    If on the positive side this does work as advertised then boy is there going to be a lot of teeth gnashing in the Fatherland.
  • and thus avoid the hassle.

    First, the FEDS will require an NSA-type back door so that they can decipher the terrorists latest plots.

    Second, unless you require a password for every HD sector accessed encryption will be just another pseudo-security pacifier, but making HDs more expensive - READ: more profits for HD manufacturers.

    Third, blackhats will crack it in record time. The best security is a locked door or a good hammer.
  • by Eravnrekaree ( 467752 ) on Monday October 30, 2006 @03:27PM (#16646405)
    I think encryption is better done in software, such as with GPG. Then at least we can read the software code, rather than relying on black box technology.

    I also am concerned about the DRM implications of this. Could for instance, in the future, the disk perhaps allow Windows to request that an NTFS filesystem be locked and Linux not be allowed to access it? Could this be used by Microsoft to lock open source programs out of reading data from other programs?
  • Great, as if hard drives weren't slow enough already - here comes an extra level of slowness to add to the mix. I guess I'll be avoiding Seagate drives in the future.

    If I want to do encryption, I'll do it myself with a partition of my own choosing.

  • They'll have tens of thousands of users demanding that they "unlock" their drive. If there's no back door, not even data recovery services will be able to help, at any price. If there is a back door, it'll be disclosed eventually

    Anyone who really wants encryption won't trust it regardless. I sure won't.
  • Will we even be able to reformat a drive that we don't know the password? If not, that kills the used computer market. At least now you can reformat and reload your OS if you get locked out.

    This seems like something easy to brute force since most people won't use strong passwords anyway.

    Regardless, I suspect this will be optional and 99% of users won't enable it. Those who already use a BIOS power on password will use it and few others will. As others have said, the first time someone at a company quit and
  • What's so amazing and new about this? Models of IBM Thinkpads came with an option for encrypted hard drives years ago. I know the Thinkpad 770 did it, because I have one.

    And while I'm here, I'll nod in agreement with some of the other posts...especially in this era of George W. Brezhnev and his minions, I don't trust my encryption to anything that isn't open source and peer reviewed.

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.