Seagate intros 500 GB self-encrypting laptop drives

Today, Seagate announced it's rolling out two new self-encrypted laptop drives, designed to guard against information theft. Dell will be an initial OEM customer.

Seagate on Monday announced new full disk encryption (FDE) Momentus self-encrypted drives with capabilities of up to a half-terabyte, along with software from McAfee for encryption management. Although standalone editions of the 5,400 RPM and 7,200 RPM drives are available to consumers and organizations of all sizes, Seagate is also selling the FDEs to OEMs, starting with Dell.

In the US alone, a laptop is stolen every 53 seconds, said Joni Clark, product marketing manager for Seagate's Personal Computer Business Unit, in a briefing for BetaNews. About 97 percent of these laptops are never recovered, Clark added, citing FBI statistics.

As of January of 2005, more than 245 million records had been breached on laptops, with 50% of these breaches occurring in Fortune 1000 corporations, 25% in the military, 16% in higher education, and 9% in the medical field, according to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.

To protect military and other government documents, Seagate's third-generation self-encrypted drives comply with NSA security guidelines. The two drives have also achieved FIPS 197 algorithm certification, with FIPS 140-2 certification now in progress. The drives use AES 128-bit encryption.

But small businesses and consumers, too, are increasingly worried over data theft, said Clark. Papagino's Pizza, for example, will use Dell Latitude laptops containing Seagate's self-encrypting drives.

Numbers from the Ponemon Institute show that 80% of businesses experienced some sort of data breach in 2007.

Accordingly, Seagate is offering two modes for the drives. Many businesses and other organizations will use bundled McAfee software for hard disk drive detection, encryption policy management, authentication, and security auditing.

Consequently, they'll be able to prove compliance with laws in 44 states requiring encryption of customer information, Clark maintained.

Consumers, on the other hand, will typically run the Momentus hard drives without the McAfee software, to save on performance overhead. Once the self-encrypted hard drive is installed, the user will simply enter a BIOS password and then log on as usual.

The 320 GB versions of the Momentus encrypted hard drives are shipping already, while the 500 GB editions are slated for availability next year.

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