Toshiba launches HDDs with built-in Wipe Technology


April 18, 2011

Toshiba has launched five new self-encrypting hard drives which include automatic data invalidation technology

Toshiba has launched five new self-encrypting hard drives which include automatic data invalidation technology

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The accidental loss or deliberate theft of notebooks with drives full of sensitive information is not just the cause of red faces (or worse) for government or military officials around the globe, as the world of business has also been touched by such security breaches. Self-encrypting drives have done much to help lock down important files, but Toshiba has gone a step further by developing a technology that securely erases data rather than let it fall into unauthorized hands. Originally announced last August, Wipe Technology has now been incorporated into a new range of self-encrypting hard drives which will go into mass production at the end of June.

The 2.5-inch MK6461GSYG drives will be available in capacities ranging from 160GB to 640GB and are not only destined for enterprise notebooks and mini-PCs, but could also end up in copiers, printers, and point-of-sale systems. The inclusion of the latest version of Wipe Technology allows users to have hardware encryption keys invalidated, or all data automatically erased when the drive's power supply is turned off or when connected to an unauthorized system.

The latter control is a new addition and works by triggering a challenge response when the drive is inserted into a system. If the system is known to the drive, all works as it should. However, if an attempt is made to read data on the drive by physically removing it from a secure host system and running it in an unauthorized system, the drive automatically deletes the encryption key, rendering the data inaccessible.

IT departments within an organization can also use the technology to ensure that private or sensitive data is cleansed ahead of system disposal or hard drive hotswaps.

Toshiba says that Wipe can be incorporated into existing system architecture and will be headed for its own-brand enterprise computer solutions, multi-function printers and POS systems. The company is also currently looking at integrating it into solid state storage solutions.

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Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag. All articles by Paul Ridden

Easy to defeat. Extract the platters....

Mr Stiffy

The question is: are this kind of things really necessary? i.e., it\'s incredibly easy to have the entire hard drive securely encrypted, whether you use linux or windows. I have a netbook running Ubuntu, with the hard drive fully encrypted, and it uses a key from a usb thumb drive to decrypt. This means that it\'s impossible to break via brute force o rainbow attack. So, whats the real need for this kind of expensive stuff? :S

Facebook User

@Mr Stiffy, If I am reading the article correctly (I\'ve not checked the Tosh web site) extracting the platters will just get you (literally) a disk of encrypted data - useless, the wipe technology destroys the decrytion key, which is stored in the electronics I believe - removing the platter leaves you in the same condition - encrypted data without the key.

@HacKan CuBa, errr, so you don\'t need a a USB stick! All the encryption systems are held in the data storage device hardware, no additional hardware for people to forget, lose, break or have stolen - and they are not that expensive which is kind of the whole idea.

Just think its sad we live in a world where we need this!


I have to agree with Cuba. I can carry a USB key to unlock a hard drive, that\'s no problem. The big worry with this Tosh drive is if there is an electronic glitch, the drive gets the wrong handshake, and so it commits Hari Kari.

At least if I lose a USB drive I can keep the backup key in a safe deposit box, and I can change the key anytime I want. The only possible disadvantage is if somebody successfully steals both the laptop the USB key. However if somebody steals a laptop with the Tosh drive, they just have to keep it in the laptop & crack the windows password.


Nothing new here. At least since 2000, hard drives have had a password feature with a built in secure erase function which is triggered by a brute force password removal.

There\'s a freeware app that will activate the secure erase on any such drive, even if it doesn\'t already have a password set. If the drive has an existing password, the app simply removes it to trigger secure erase. If the drive doesn\'t have a password, the app sets one then removes it to trigger secure erase.

Gregg Eshelman
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