New hard drive wipes itself if taken out of PC

Toshiba upgrades SED drive

Toshiba has come up with a type of self-encrypting hard drive (SED) that can automatically wipe data if it is removed from a paired computer by an attacker.

Available in capacities up to 640GB, the new MKxx61GSYG drive upgrades the capabilities of an identically-named drive announced last December, which launched the company's family of drives complying with the Trusted Computing Group's Opal SSC specification.

The new version adds new feature to the mix for OEMs, including the ability to cause either part or all of the drive to become crypto-erased if the drive detects that it is not operating inside a particular PC.

According to Toshiba, this is useful for point-of-sale terminals as well as some laptops to protect against drive data being accessed when it is at the end of its life or being re-provisioned.

The company is also pushing the case of this type of drive in niche applications such as multi-function printers that cache and retain images of faxes and printed documents. Undoubtedly, however, the technology could herald a move to drives designed that wipe themselves when removed from paired computers or devices.

Data can also be set to erase from sections of the drive based on remote commands.

"Although people are taking security seriously, the uptake of encrypting drive is very small," admitted Toshiba's technical support manager, Tim Wright.

A key to changing that would be ease of use and that meant automating as many security functions as possible in the manner of the new drive.

"This is easy to use. It is fit and forget," said Wright.

Pricing has not been announced but samples are due to ship to OEMs for integration into products this quarter, the company said.

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John E Dunn

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