According to confidential information disclosed to The SSD Guy, the US military has made several advancements in a novel approach to provide soldiers, sailors, and aviators with portable storage that cannot be lost or stolen.
Consider the difficulty faced by the armed forces: Confidential information is now a part of every enlisted person’s mission, yet that data, if stored on an external HDD, USB flash drive, or flash card, could fall into the hands of an adversary. How can the military prevent this from happening?
The solution is ingeniously simple. Iron in any form can be magnetized, and magnetization is the most common of all ways to store data bits: It’s used in tape and hard drives, which, combined, account for more than 90% of all data storage today.
The human body has plenty of iron, traveling though its veins in the blood stream.
The military’s approach is to magnetize the Continue reading “New Approach to Portable Storage”
This post is the second of a two-part SSD Guy series outlining the nonvolatile DIMM or NVDIMM. The first part explained what an NVDIMM is and how they are named. This second part describes the software used to support NVDIMMs (BIOS, operating system, and processor instructions) and discusses issues of security.
Today’s standard software boots a computer under the assumption that the memory at boot-up contains random bits — this needed to be changed to support NVDIMMs. The most fundamental of these changes was to the BIOS (Basic I/O Subsystem), the code that “wakes up” the computer.
The BIOS is responsible for detecting all of the computer’s hardware and installing the appropriate drivers, after which it loads the bootstrap program from the mass storage device into the DRAM main memory. When an NVDIMM is used the BIOS must Continue reading “An NVDIMM Primer (Part 2 of 2)”
A very unusual press release crossed my desk last week. London-based SecureDrives has introduced a 2.5″ self-encrypting SSD that takes security one very large step further by physically destroying the flash chips within the SSD by remote command.
The flash chips are actually fractured, as is shown in the accompanying photo, which SecureDrives sent me to illustrate. Click the thumbnail to enlarge.
SecureDrives calls its product the SDSRDD which is short for Secure Drive SSD, Remote Data Destruction.
My first concern was that the product used some sort of explosive. The company put me at ease by explaining that the fracture process uses a rapidly propagating shock wave via a patented technology. They said that the fracturing process creates no safety issues at all.
The destruction command is initiated through a GSM receiver internal to the SSD. When destruction is required (i.e. the drive is lost or stolen) the SSD’s rightful owner sends a user-defined message or phrase to the drive from any phone in the world. The drive flips the encryption key and then fractures the NAND flash and security processor. The drive then returns a confirmation message to the phone. The destruction process is executed in milliseconds.
Readers may recall a post that I published two years ago about an external SSD from Runcore that over-writes the data in the SSD via a GSM command. The Runcore product uses over-writing, which can take minutes to perform, rather than a self-encrypted drive which is effectively erased in a few milliseconds. The Runcore product also differes because it does not physically damage the flash, and, as an external drive, it cannot be incorporated into a notebook PC’s housing as can the SecureDrives product.
It seems that secure SSDs are getting increasingly sophisticated over time. I eagerly await hearing about the next imaginative step designers will take to make their SSDs more secure.
The SSD Guy has run across some confusion lately about fast erase on SSDs. It’s time to clear this up.
SSDs can undergo a very fast erase, and have had that capability for a number of years. After ruggedness this is probably the key reason the military is so enamored with SSDs.
Let’s say that you were out to capture a major terrorism kingpin and your helicopter crashed. How would you assure that the Continue reading “SSDs and Fast Erase”
RunCore has just introduced a wonderfully innovative new SSD feature that could create new problems for air travel.
From the company’s press release: “RunCore’s Xapear is a smart USB 2.0 connected SSD solution with RFID protection, allowing you to split your data into a freely accessible partition, and a hidden partition that only becomes accessible by applying a special RFID key to your SSD. Furthermore, the Xapear offers remote data destruction by simply sending an SMS over your GSM from your mobile device to the integrated GSM receiver, which then will immediately start Continue reading “The SSD You Can’t Fly With”
An interesting feature that exists in many SSDs is the ability to quickly erase all the data on the device. The military is especially interested in this feature because it helps prevent sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands.
For example, let’s say your helicopter crashed when on a mission to assassinate the leader of a major terrorist organization. If the HDD or SSD inside the cockpit was recovered by that organization the data might be extracted to help undermine future missions. Continue reading “SSD Fast Erase”