Fujitsu To Encrypt Mobile Hard Drives

hard drive encryption

Fujitsu's new MHZ2 CJ series of 2.5-inch, 7,200-rpm SATA mobile hard drives include AES-256 encryption to help protect data on the over 700,000 laptop PCs which are lost or stolen every year, said David James, vice president of advanced product engineering at the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based vendor.

The drives, in capacities of up to 320 Gbytes, are aimed at the business mobile market, James said. "There's an astonishing number of notebooks stolen every year," he said. "Over 700,000 of them. And only 1 percent get recovered."

Most of these losses are powered-down notebook PCs, James said. "If a stolen machine is acquired by the evil organization of your choice, it could be attacked by almost unlimited resources," he said. "But with 256-bit encryption, the data can't be unscrambled."

Fujitsu has implemented 256-bit AES encryption into the silicon of the new hard drives, James said. For that reason, encryption of the data on-the-fly has no impact on performance, he said.

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Volume production of the new mobile hard drives is expected to start in July, James said. Fujitsu plans to expand the technology to other hard drives as well, but he said the company has no similar releases scheduled.

The encrypted drives will be higher-priced than similar drives without encryption, James said. "But we're not sure what the premium will be," he said. "The disk drive businesses, being what it is, always likes to get a value-add."

Storage vendors have been responding to a wide range of data security breaches with encryption, either native to the hard drive or tape drive or via add-on appliances.

Earlier this month, Seagate Technology LLC, Scotts Valley, Calif., introduced its new Cheetah 15K.6 FDE (Full Disk Encryption) hard drive for enterprise data centers with encryption technology built into the drive's controller ASIC.

Seagate has already been shipping similar drives for notebook PCs, and has already announced the security technology for desktop PCs and portable USB-connected drives.

In addition, a number of tape vendors are offering tape drives with built-in encryption technology for encrypting tapes before they are sent off-site.