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Drive makers agree on TCG encryption standard

February 2, 2009 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - The world's largest disk drive makers have pledged to support three new Trusted Computing Group (TCG) encryption standards for hard disk drives, solid-state drives and encryption-key management applications.

The standards group last week released the final specifications for encrypting data stored in laptop and desktop PCs and in enterprise-class drives used in servers and disk storage arrays.

"This represents interoperability commitments from every disk drive maker on the planet," said Robert Thibadeau, chief technologist at Seagate Technology LLC and chairman of the TCG.

Noting that the standard requires a "cryptographically strong password," he said any storage device that was lost or stolen would become "a brick. You [couldn't] even sell it on eBay."

Any disk that uses the specification will be locked and unusable without a password.

TCG members pledging support for the standards include top storage vendors such as Fujitsu, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, Seagate, Samsung Electronics, Toshiba and IBM.

In fact, Seagate, Fujitsu and Hitachi already support the standard on some of their drives.

Considering the TCG's membership, "in five years, you can imagine any drive ... will be encrypted, and there will be virtually no cost for it," said Jon Oltsik, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group.

These are the three new standards:

  • TCG Storage Work Group Opal Security Subsystem Class, which outlines minimum requirements for storage devices used in PCs and laptops.
  • TCG Storage Work Group Enterprise Security Subsystem Class, for data center drives running high-volume applications.
  • TCG Storage Interface Interactions Specification, intended to ease interactions between TCG specifications and those of other standards groups.

This version of the story originally appeared in Computerworld's print edition.

Read more about Data Storage in Computerworld's Data Storage Topic Center.



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