Hardware-encrypted portable drives? Seagate Maxtor Black Armor?

Discussion in 'hardware' started by TKHgva, Feb 19, 2009.

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  1. TKHgva

    TKHgva Registered Member

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    Hello,

    I am a new member posting from Switzerland.

    I am new to this forum and this is the first forum I join. Apologies if this isn't the correct place to post this thread.

    I'm seeking a way to encrypt data stored on my laptop (Sony Vaio). After reading a few articles comparing the practical aspects of software based encryption (file level & full drive encryption), I've decided to go for an encrypted portable drive, so that the encryption is performed on the external drive, thus not affecting CPU on the laptop.

    My questions:

    1) Can anyone suggest if an encrypted external drive is a good option (in my case having a laptop)?

    2) Also, does anyone have experience with the Seagate Maxtor Black Armor 320GB?

    3) The Black Armor drive transfers data through USB 2.0., I believe, unlike some others that use FireWire.

    Can anyone advise whether transfering through FireWire is a must if I will be using the external drive as a backup destination, thus transferring a lot of data (for making disk image backups of my laptop for example)?

    I'm wondering if the Maxtor Black Armor will be too sluggish.

    If this helps, here's a link to PCWorld review of the Maxtor Black Armor:

    http://www.pcworld.com/reviews/product/44061/review/seagate_maxtor_blackarmor.html

    also, PCWorld's comparison chart for hardware-encrypted portable drives:

    http://www.pcworld.com/article/158860/encrypted_portable_drives.html


    Thank you for any opinions regarding the above mentioned. Also, being a beginner in security related issues for computers and internet, I am open to any comments that would help me learn.
     
  2. xxJackxx

    xxJackxx Registered Member

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    We have a couple of the BlackArmor drives at the office. They are only compatible with XP or Vista. No older versions of Windows, no Linux, no MacOS period. As far as speed goes they are the same as the average drive. Personally I would rather get a better drive and run TrueCrypt. I've had no performance issues there either. I you are stupid enough to forget your password with a TruCrypt volume, you can reformat and lose your data. With the BlackArmor drive, if you forget your password you have to pitch the drive, as it would be useless. You are free to make your own choice, but I don't recommend that BlackArmor.
     
  3. TKHgva

    TKHgva Registered Member

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    Thanks for the rapid reply.

    I looked at the documentation on True Crypt website to understand how it really works (again I'm just beginning to learn on security and computers). Until now I had assumed that the encryption/decryption with software was a heavy process for the computer's memory, or that's what I read in some articles - my mistake in doing my research.

    I understand better now: the computer's RAM won't be excessively sollicited by using a software based encryption such as True Crypt, as data encryption/decryption is done "on-the-fly" and with small portions. Good news.

    Your suggestion for a better drive along with encryption software seems wiser now. My first day on this forum has been beneficial. I'm learning useful things. I congratulate the people running the forum and those participating.

    Perhaps you may have a recommendation for external hard drives (portable)? Something between 300-500 GB.

    Also, from what you say and looking at the extensive documentation on True Crypt's website, it looks like it doesn't get better than True Crypt; Open source is amazing. So you would recommend this open source software, or are there licensed softwares which offer other advantages?

    Thanks again for your advice and time.
     
  4. xxJackxx

    xxJackxx Registered Member

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    I am far from an expert on encryption, but the consensus is that open source has the advantage of not having hidden back doors. I have been very pleased with TrueCrypt and have not had it slow me down any. The encryption processes faster than the drive is capable of transferring data, so there should be no speed issues. Using the defaults, at least.

    As for drives, I have been using the Western Digital Passport Elite drives and wouldn't trade them for another brand. I paid barely over $100 for a 500GB and I think the 320 can be had for about $100 (U.S. Dollars).
     
  5. Searching_ _ _

    Searching_ _ _ Registered Member

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    http://www.fujitsu.com/global/news/pr/archives/month/2008/20080421-01.html

    Fujitsu to Launch World's First 320 GB 2.5" Hard Drive with AES 256-bit Encryption

    This series is the first hard disk drive in the world to support the 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)(3). The drive implements the AES hardware encryption directly into the processor chip of the hard disk drive, resulting in more robust security and faster system performance than software-based encryption.

    All data stored on the hard disk drive can be erased instantly, in less than a second, using the advanced secure erase feature. {Program to access this feature is HDDErase.exe (v3.3)}

    Also, Gigabyte offers built in encryption on some of their motherboards, called Ultra TPM I think. Gigabyte P45 is one.
    I'm sure there are other manufacturers.
     
  6. TKHgva

    TKHgva Registered Member

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    Thanks.

    If open source encryption offers the advantage of no backdoor, than that's really a major criteria. Thanks for that info.

    Interesting to know that the encryption process is faster than the actual data transfer. I am looking at software-based encryption from a different view now.

    I'll be looking into the Western Digital drive you mentioned.

    To resume, could we say that an encrypted portable drive such as Maxtor Black Armor is useful if one is moving/travelling a lot with sensitive data and could be used as a sort of "XXL" USB storage device, with the security that if lost or stolen, data is protected. Whereas if one wishes to systematically encrypt all data on a drive, including the system, than one should use software like True Crypt?

    I like the fact that True Crypt can encrypt everything including the operating System (from what I read in the documentation if I understood correctly). Adding to that about what you unerlined in first reply about it being supported by all operating systems, unlike Black Armor (only XP & Vista).

    In regard to encrypting the OS , I need an explanation: does this mean True Crypt encrypts the Windows Registry? (PS. Is Windows Registry part of the OS or is it just another term for the OS?). I've read about the dangers of having the registry altered, so I'm trying to figure out how to protect it a part from using Spybot and Webroot.

    If we encrypt the system/windows registry, will this protect us from malware (what is the name, rootkits?) which may harmfully affect the registry?
    Does encrypting the operating system imply that if a person or malware successfully intrudes into one's computer, the operating system will be invisible to the intruder/malware, and thus protected?

    I appreciate your taking time in responding.

    PS If there's a place for me to find all this info without having to ask about basic facts, kindly provide me with a link. Until now, I've been browsing internet and using this site to inform myself : http://www.guard-privacy-and-online-security.com/index.html which I found very useful for beginners like me.
     
  7. TKHgva

    TKHgva Registered Member

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    Thanks for the link.

    Trying to understand something: this is a mobile hard drive; does mobile mean it's made to replace existing drive inside laptops/notebooks? Or are mobile hard drives made for larger PCs?

    Can this Fujitsu drive be used to replace the existing one in a notebook/laptop?

    Thanks
     
  8. SourMilk

    SourMilk Registered Member

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    It's more of an addition for notebooks like installing an internal drive in a desktop but with the ability to pull it out effortlessly. It's not a replacement but can allow one to have a very large storage capability.

    SourMilk out
     
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