Designed for embedded applications, the new drives required designers to overcome challenges to achieve the right form factor and hardware encryption.
Earlier this week, Integral announced its Crypto mSATA SSD, a range of mSATA (MO-300) solid-state drives with military-level, FIPS-197 Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256-bit hardware encryption. Developed in the UK, the new SSDs are available in capacities from 64GB to 256GB, and can be installed in laptops, ultrabooks and small form-factor machines (for use as embedded secure storage).
According to Certicom, FIPS validation can take eight to twelve months. The FIPS program (which stands for Federal Information Processing Standards) is overseen by the US National Institute of Standards for Technology (NIST). Unfortunately, no more information was immediately available on this standard at time of publication because the US government shutdown caused the shutdown of the NIST web site.
In an email, Patrick Warley, head of research and development at Integral, explained that the major technical challenges for this new drive were achieving a small form factor with currently available flash while also enabling a large capacity drive to work with the hardware and full-disk encryption techniques. He says, “We needed to make sure that there was seamless interaction between both flash and controller to ensure encryption was applied without compromising noticeable performance of the SSD.”
The company already had experience with the mSATA (JEDEC MO-300) form factor when developing other AES 256-bit hardware-encrypted products such as the Crypto USB Flash drive and a Crypto 2.5” SSD with a SATA III interface. Warley notes that even when you have experience in these areas, encryption poses different challenges with each form factor.
While military-grade SSDs are not new, the Integral team boasts that a competitive advantage of its Crypto SSDs is that users can set unique IDs that enable users to link the SSD with an endpoint protector. In addition, Warley claims that its is the only product where the program/software interface is never installed on the host computer. So, “when encryption is set on our Crypto SSD, then it can no longer be cloned.”
According to Integral, all of the data on the drive (including the operating system) is 256-bit AES encrypted at system shutdown. The security system is BIOS-independent. A user can only access the disk by entering the password. In the event of a brute-force password attack, all encrypted data is automatically erased after a preset number of failed password attempts. In addition, the data and encryption key are securely destroyed, and the Crypto mSATA SSD is reset.
Crypto mSATA SSDs are compatible with Microsoft Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8. They come standard with a two-year warranty. More information.