MACWORLD - WiebeTech announces FireWire Encrypt, new drives

WiebeTech LLC will announce several products at this week's Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco, as well as introduce a new patent pending encrypting storage technology entitled "FireWire Encrypt."

FireWire Encrypt gives users the ability to create and carry encrypted FireWire drives. This is not bundled software, but is a technology that buries encryption deep within the drive, out of reach of the operating system or application programs, James Wiebe, CEO of WiebeTech said. Users can gain access to their encrypted drive on any computer, as long as the passcode is supplied to the drive. Unauthorized users will never see the data, because it is encoded using the AES (Rijndael) Algorithm, Wiebe explained.

"FireWire Encrypt represents a breakthrough in data security and storage technology," Wiebe said. "This patent pending technology provides important benefits to the user which improve portability of encrypted data while simultaneously increasing the security of the data. First and foremost, the encryption and decryption occurs 'on the fly' within the storage enclosure, not in the host computer. As a result, the encrypted volume is much easier to use compared to software host based encrypting/decrypting programs."

He added that the technology is "very robust," because it is based on the the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), which in turn is based on highly unbreakable Rijndael encryption techniques. While first versions of this product require the user to supply a pass phrase to the encrypted storage device through a user installed applet, WiebeTech expects to eventually see integration of the technology directly into the operating system so that pass key prompting occurs by the operating system whenever an encrypted drive is attached to the host computer.

The technology is not yet available for sale, but will be offered as a licensable technology to interested parties. WiebeTech will also make the technology available as an embedded feature in future product offerings.

WiebeTech will also be announcing a 1394b FireWire drive. Although shipments aren't expected until late in the first quarter of the year, this product "will set new standards for transfer rate performance," Wiebe said.

A new aluminum, and fanless, version of the DesktopGB will be introduced. DesktopGBs are external hard disk drives suitable for either horizontal or vertical installations. The new FireWire drive features capacities to 250GB and beyond. DesktopGB+ is based on the Oxford OXFW911 chip.

Pre-configured capacities of DesktopGB+ reach 200GB, with an empty, user configurable version also available. WiebeTech is offering the empty upgradeable enclosure for US$139.95, while the 180GB with 8MB cache configuration is priced at $429.95. Every configuration includes Mac Drive 5 software for Windows/Mac compatibility.

WiebeTech will also formally introduce the UltraGB, a 3.5-inch transportable bus-powered drive with reduced power consumption. This new class of portable drives is aimed at multimedia developers who want to carry around a large (80GB or 120GB) portable bus-powered FireWire-USB2 drive. UltraGB uses third generation WiebeTech PowerBridge technology.

UltraGB offers lowest power consumption by use of WiebeTech's proprietary third generation PowerBridge bus powering circuitry, according to Wiebe. As a result, the 80GB version consumes approximately seven watts of power in heavy usage (such as when duplicating a folder and power consumption and is even lower at idle or when reading from or writing to the drive). The fanless design of UltraGB, combined with its heat dissipating aluminum enclosure makes UltraGB an excellent choice "for noise conscious hard drive users," he added. Pricing ranges from $199.95 to $499.95. The UltraGB coms with an enclosure, vertical stand for desktop use, FireWire cable, USB cable, and AC adapter.

Additionally, the company will formally introduce the MicroGB+ and the MicroGB+Combo. The former is a notebook drive that features dual FireWire ports and burst transfer speeds of about 36MB per second. The latter, another notebook drive, sports FireWire and USB 2 ports in a portable configuration. Just like MicroGB+, it's faster, smaller, lighter and is more feature rich than the original MicroGB, according to Wiebe.

The MicroGB+ offers burst transfer rates in excess of 35 MB/sec. And it's less expensive than WiebeTech's original MicroGB product,. The 40GB version with 5400RPM high speed spindle and 8MB cache is priced at $269.95.

"This includes the enclosure, drive, FireWire cable and carrying case," Wiebe said. "We also include a copy of MediaFour's Mac Drive 5 software, which allows Mac formatted drives to be read on Windows computers. This software has a value of $59.95. The user configurable version of the product also includes a screwdriver for easy installation of any 9.5mm notebook drive."

Pricing on the MicroGB+ ranges from US$99.95 for a 10GB model to $349.95 for a 60GB version. The basic product includes an aluminum enclosure, FireWire cable, and carrying case. An AC adapter is optional and required for use only with nonpowered FireWire hosts.

WiebeTech will also announce and ship a Super DriveDock enhancement with support for CD and DVD drives. Super DriveDock is a very small fully enclosed module that allows hard drives, CDs and DVDs to attach to a computer's FireWire port. It costs US $159.95, and includes an AC adapter.

The company is also announcing and shipping ATA-6 compatibility for the Forensic DriveDock. The DriveDock is a tiny peripheral that enables users to attach a raw hard disk drive mechanism to the FireWire interface on a Mac or PC. The Forensic DriveDock differs from the regular model by being write blocked, making it possible to read data but not accidentally overwrite it. It's built for forensic analysis of IDE data storage devices, especially for law enforcement and criminal investigation marketplaces. The product allows data to be read from drives without risk of writing data to the drives and is becoming a handy tool of criminal investigation and forensic laboratories, according to Wiebe.

"Forensic DriveDock now supports IDE drives with high capacity ATA-6 interfaces," he added. "This allows safe forensic analysis of drives which recently hit the marketplace. This new capability is an important enhancement to the feature set of our Forensic DriveDock."

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