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Toshiba announces self-wipe drives

Toshiba announces self-wipe drives

Toshiba's self-wipe technology can completely scramble a drive as soon as the power is cut.

Toshiba has announced a new weapon in the battle for data security - the ability for its self-encrypting drives to automatically wipe sensitive data.

While drives which keep the data stored in an encrypted form - usually via AES-256 - aren't anything new, Toshiba is claiming that its self-wiping technology is a world's first, and which allows enhanced data security for corporations, governments, and paranoiacs the world over.

The technology is simple: when a drive is switched off, Toshiba's system goes into action and invalidates the security key which was used to encrypt the stored data. While the data is still, technically, in place, there's no way to access it without the new-erased key - making the data to all intents and purposes gone.

If you're thinking that a drive which automatically wipes its contents every time you power your system down sounds pretty useless, you'd be right: Toshiba is aiming this latest range at manufacturers of printers and photocopiers that feature in-built storage devices in order to prevent cached documents from being leaked when leased systems are returned to their owners or older equipment gets sold off.

Toshiba is positioning the technology as a time-saver for those who already worry about the security of their data and either use overwriting software to scramble the contents of old disks - which Toshiba points out takes many hours to complete - or that physically destroy drives, rendering them useless for re-use or re-sale.

The first drive to feature Toshiba's automatic wiping technology is a 7,200 RPM 2.5" mechanical drive - but if successful, Toshiba is likely to extend the functionality to other drives in its range. As well as automated wiping, Toshiba is to implement command-based wiping - making the technology available on demand, and a lot more useful for use in desktops and notebooks.

Are you impressed to see that companies are doing something to prevent information disclosure from things like photocopiers, or is Toshiba's latest innovation only likely to appeal to governments with something to hide? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

10 Comments

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Cptn-Inafinus 10th August 2010, 12:32 Quote
Clip art makes everything ****. Even a potentially good idea.
Flibblebot 10th August 2010, 13:57 Quote
Having used digital photocopiers before, I can safely say that they don't just get turned on at install and then turned off when you're ready to get rid of them.

Power cuts notwithstanding, our machines were all turned off at night - and there were quite a few commonly used documents we stored on the copier for ease of use, so does that mean that we'd have to load them onto the machine afresh every morning?

It's a case of one of those ideas that sounds brilliant in a lab, but not so great in the real world.

btw: should para 3 read "now-erased" rather than "new-erased"?
CharlO 10th August 2010, 16:34 Quote
I love the Paint Made schematic.

"World's first"

"Actual size!"
HourBeforeDawn 10th August 2010, 18:59 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flibblebot
Having used digital photocopiers before, I can safely say that they don't just get turned on at install and then turned off when you're ready to get rid of them.

Power cuts notwithstanding, our machines were all turned off at night - and there were quite a few commonly used documents we stored on the copier for ease of use, so does that mean that we'd have to load them onto the machine afresh every morning?

It's a case of one of those ideas that sounds brilliant in a lab, but not so great in the real world.

btw: should para 3 read "now-erased" rather than "new-erased"?

well they could set up copy machines to access servers or a thumb-drive for docs you want to use often, overall for the financial markter and so forth that scans or copies personal data this is a good thing.
Blackie Chan 10th August 2010, 19:34 Quote
I can wipe!!!!
HourBeforeDawn 10th August 2010, 21:15 Quote
come to think of it wouldnt using simple ram allow for the same thing that when the system looses power the ram is wiped?
confusis 10th August 2010, 21:21 Quote
Epic prank?
capnPedro 10th August 2010, 22:17 Quote
This isn't a new concept. Set up a TrueCrypt container, with the key taken from /dev/urandom and stored in RAM.

Of course it may be the first purely hardware based solution. Do the drives handle the encyption/decryption, or is it still done by the CPU?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flibblebot
Having used digital photocopiers before, I can safely say that they don't just get turned on at install and then turned off when you're ready to get rid of them.

"Switching it off" and completely removing power (i.e. unplugging) are two different acts.
Flibblebot 11th August 2010, 12:09 Quote
No, they're not when the copiers are on a timer switch. In this case, "switching off" really did mean removing power.
tank_rider 11th August 2010, 17:31 Quote
"Toshiba is aiming this latest range at manufacturers of printers and photocopiers that feature in-built storage devices in order to prevent cached documents from being leaked when leased systems are returned to their owners or older equipment gets sold off."

Or you could buy a system that has software that already wipes any document data as soon as the job is finished like the ones I work on at Xerox. Immediate Image Overwrite has been in our systems for years! Also wiping data when the machine is switched off wouldn't work for stored documents anyway as power cuts are regular enough to cause problems.

In terms of removing the power, we have many problems at customer sites with cleaners removing power chords in order to plug in their vacuum cleaners. No powering down, just pulling the plug while it's on and sometimes printing.

If you want your device to be cleared when it leaves, delete all stored jobs, then run an on demand image overwrite which blasts all data in the job storage areas of the HD, not as fast as using a fancy hd, but actually writes zeros over all the data rather than just deleting the key and leaving the data there to be hacked at a later date!
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