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.
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