Seagate debuts the world's most secure laptop drive

Two years after first being announced by Seagate, the world’s most secure hard drive is finally to go on sale in a laptop from system vendor ASI

Seagate Technologies Monday announced the availability of the first laptop hard drive with native encryption capabilities, which is aimed at protecting data if a machine is lost or stolen.

Seagate's Momentus 5400 FDE.2 drive, with native 128-bit AES encryption, can also be purchased with Wave Systems Embassy Trust Suite management software from Wave Systems, which will allow IT administrators to manage data encryption, keys and passwords at the enterprise level.

"This is a standard ATA drive that's encrypting all the time. It acts like a regular drive, you wouldn't know the difference," said Lark Allen, executive vice president of corporate development at Wave Systems.

While there are many software-based encryption technologies available, Seagate's Momentus drive is the first to employ firmware-based encryption at the laptop drive level, which is less expensive than encryption software and does not eat up CPU cycles, said Melissa Johnson, head of product marketing at Seagate.

The Momentus is a serial ATA drive that spins at 5,400 rpm, has a 1.5Gbit/sec throughput and comes with pre-boot authentication and a secure data erasure feature, which overwrites data several times to allow repurposing of the drive. The drive comes in 80GB, 120GB and 160GB capacities. The encryption feature will add about 25 percent more to the cost of standard Seagate SATA drives and will retail anywhere US$130 to US$175 for an 80GB drive, a Seagate spokesman said.

ASI Computer Technologies also announced it will be distributing the ASI NB Model C8015 and C8015+, the very first laptop to sport the new Seagate encrypted drive, said Kent Tibbils, ASI's senior director of platforms.

ASI said it chose it's 15-inch Centrino Duo Notebook to house the new drive because the laptop already comes with security features such as a biometrics fingerprint reader. ASI serves small to medium sized VAR or integrators who focus products for government, legal, financial, educational, and health industries as well as consumer markets.

Seagate said it is in talks with "several" large laptop manufacturers to include the drive, but added that the drive is also well-suited for workstations, gaming systems and small-form desktop PCs.

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Lucas Mearian

Lucas Mearian

Computerworld
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