Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Encryped Hard-Drives are coming soon

Encrypted hard-drives from Seagate are on the way. A news release discussed their latest disk drive technology, and the implications of hardware-level encrypting. On the plus side, it would mean that a stolen hard-drive would be essentially useless. On the down side (depending how you use your PC), it would enable DRM (Digital Rights Management) to (potentially) control what you are able to write to your disk drive.

This encryption direction for hard-drives is part of the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) initiative to better secure data on computers and help protect against viruses and malware that write unauthorized code to a hard-drive. In theory, this new hardware-level authentication, in conjunction with a PC and an operating system that supports something called a TCG stack (authentication related stuff), only properly authenticated transactions will be able to write to the hard drive.

I personally do not care about the DRM implications, since I do not use my computers for storing any music or video. And, the only pictures I store on my computers are the ones I take personally. But, I know others will have a concern about all this new potential to limit what can be stored on the hard-drive.

My main concern is, that although this hardware-level encryption and protection sounds great, I just wonder how long it will be until a new level of sophistication is reached in the next generation of computer virus, thus enabling that virus to circumvent this new technology. Seems like whatever countermeasures are created to thwart viruses and malware, there is always yet another exploit just around the corner. This hardware may make such an advanced virus unlikely, or at least unlikely to emerge anytime soon, but I for one will not be at all surprised when the encryption/protection is cracked and exploited. I hope I am wrong, because it would just be wonderful to know I can safely use my computer without the worry of viruses in downloaded emails/documents/etc. Time will tell if this new technology is all, or part, of the answer.


DED said...

I'm not into the fileswapping set either, but I wonder who holds the keys here. Is the encryption in the hands of Seagate or the pc itself? Is it crash proof? As more and more control of pc's leaves the user and goes into the OS on the grounds that it knows best, I grow more reluctant to upgrade. But if the hardware is beyond my control too, then why should I trust it to keep my information safe?

Mike Eberhart said...

I am a bit uninformed yet on the entire details of all this encrypted-hard-drive stuff. I too wonder who "holds the keys". I'd bet the government has some way to access things no matter what. There are all sorts of "back doors" and other identifying info put into products these days (or, am I paranoid). You do know that modern printers print a small identifying mark that can be used to trace what printer a printout came from, right? (most of them from what I understand). So, your question is quite valid.

DED said...

Ack! No I didn't! I guess that's how they track down the neo-counterfeiters.