Storage

Seagate announces the world's first encrypting 3.5 inch drive


Shortly after releasing the world's first notebook hard disk with built-in hardware encryption, Seagate announced the Barracuda FDE (full disc encryption) series of hard disk for desktop use.

Weighing in at up to 1 terabyte (TB), this 7,200-rpm series of disk is certainly no pushover.

According to the press release:

The Barracuda FDE hard drive is the world’s first 3.5-inch desktop PC drive with native encryption to prevent unauthorized access to data on lost or stolen hard drives or systems. Using AES encryption, a government-grade security protocol and the strongest that is commercially available, The Barracuda FDE hard drive delivers endpoint security for powered-down systems. Logging back on requires a pre-boot user password that can be buttressed with other layers of authentication such as smart cards and biometrics.

Basically, the Seagate security platform automatically protects all data stored throughout the drive and is not limited by partitions or files. In essence, its security operates independently even of the file system(s), preserving the hard drive's full performance and is transparent to the operating system.

Like the IronKey USB flash drive, the fact that hardware encryption is employed here means that the entire drive can be "erased" by simply deleting the encryption key. Without the encryption key, the remaining data is (theoretically) as good as just random bits on a platter.

It remains to be seen, however, if such an option would be acceptable to government departments in place of a proper hardware wipe.

Does the Barracuda FDE hard disk appeal to you?

About

Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.

11 comments
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This is good for those who know what they are doing. I am an advicate security and data backups. However, when it comes for us who help maintain or repair computers, this will make our work more difficult. What happens when a Windows crashes and many times uses do not backup their data? How does one do data recovery? I would appreciate info so I can help others. thanks.

BillFerreira
BillFerreira

To backup my Apple once Panther ships. I want one of the 2.5 internal drives for the MacBook Pro too.

vmaatta
vmaatta

:) Just thought I'd say you had an "oops"... Mac OS X v10.3 "Panther" was released on October 24, 2003. Mac OS X v10.5 "Leopard" expected october this year. On a side note.. I agree. I'd like a 2.5" as a portable not unlike WD Passport drives.

paulmah
paulmah

Does the Barracuda FDE hard disk appeal to you?

tradergeorge
tradergeorge

This drive is a tool. No more, no less. It is neither bad nor good. A saw could be considered bad if you cut your leg off, or good if you need to build something. The encryption can be good or bad depending on who is using it and what it is used for. A cynic might say that we have more idiots than craftsmen in the computer world. But that in no reason not to have tools available.

brianhochmuth
brianhochmuth

If the keys are not stored securely and can't be backed up it can lead to some serious problems.

CG IT
CG IT

Business applications, especially in laptops and database servers, hell yes. for the average joe home user... it's going to be a customer service nightmare when keys are lost and the IRS wants to see all their stuff and it's all on the encrypted HDD.

danbowkley
danbowkley

This could open up a whole legal can of worms...if all my data is on a totally encrypted hard drive, and I have the only key (do I? really? Do I trust Seagate to make that assertion?), and there's incriminating evidence on the drive...can I plead the 5th amendment and simply not divulge the key? I can't be forced to provide incriminating evidence against myself, and the key would give access to such evidence. I fear this thing might just give shelter to child pornographers, terrorists, and all sorts of other folks that use their computer for less-than-friendly pursuits. Unless, of course, Seagate has an extra key. In which case, I think I'll stick with an AES loopback filesystem, thank you very much.

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

We just never get to see it!All memory chips have a BIOS file recorded in them or they would not know how to work.CD's and DVD's also have a BIOS file;this is how the computer knows what the disk is.I think that this file is really lengthy and deep and cool!Making adjustments in the firmware should be in the computer BIOS program.(The registry.) I think that there is supposed to be a BIOS task bar displayed on my desktop at all times!

Michael P.
Michael P.

You might want to try that again.

danbowkley
danbowkley

This is true, in a sense: the motherboard just executes the boot sector, which in turn bootstraps the operating system. However, it looks like this encryption transcends that. I'd bet that there's a sort of custom boot sector, the only part of the drive that's not encrypted, which loads the little program that gets your key and puts it into the hardware on the drive so it can then show the motherboard the "real" boot sector. Somewhat roundabout, granted, but effective. I can't help but wonder how well this would play with LILO, GRUB, and other non-Windows bootloaders? I'd bet it wouldn't even notice, but hey now I have to go find out! :D