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News

Hard drive encryption standard a positive move

ISACA : 03 February, 2009  (Technical Article)
ISACA considers the development of a common disk encryption standard by members of the Trusted Computing Group as a positive step in the right direction
ISACA has applauded moves by the data storage industry to develop a common encryption standard for use on hard drives. According to Vernon Poole, CISM Head of Business Consultancy for Sapphire and Member of ISACA's Information Security Management Committee, the development of the standard by the Trusted ComputingGroup - whose membership includes Fujitsu, Hitachi, IBM, Samsung, Seagate, Toshiba and Western - centres around three non-proprietary specifications.

'The Opal Security Subsystem Class Specification is designed for PC clients, the Enterprise Security Subsystem Class Specification is for datacentre storage, while the Storage Interface Interactions Specification focuses on the interactions between these storage devices and underlying SCSI/ATA protocols,' he said.

'These three specifications come together to form a security framework that the data storage industry can use on their drives, and so allow notebook, as well as desktop, PC users to encrypt their data on-the- fly as it is written to the drive,' he added.

As data is required, he went on to say, it can be decrypted directly into the computer's memory, so lessening the risk that the data will fall into the wrong hands.

'The fact that the industry has developed these specifications under the auspices of the Trusted Computing Group, is extremely positive for all aspects of the IT security industry, since it will allow companies to upgrade their computers and have a baseline on which to build an enforceable set of IT security policies,' he said.

'Research from the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse shows that, in recent years, more than 252 million records containing sensitive data have been compromised due to security breaches in the US alone. The use of encrypted hard drives would have greatly reduced this figure,' he added.

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