The VA (and some of its vendors) are the poster children for organizations that are in the habit of losing laptops loaded with sensitive data. The department -- which promised to encrypt data on laptops and desktops in the wake of the thefts -- clearly is a prime candidate for the Seagate Momentus 5400 FDE.2 drive, which features embedded 128-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). The vendor says it is the first laptop hard drive with this form of security built in at the firmware level.
Seagate says that implementing encryption in this manner is cheaper and more efficient than adding it via software. The drives themselves will add about 25 percent to the price of a serial advanced technology attachment (serial ATA) drive. This will, of course, eliminate the software cost, which Seagate says is greater. ASI Computer Technologies is the first customer; Seagate says that it is talking with other laptop makers.
Seagate -- and almost certainly other vendors -- likely will make firmware-based AES encryption a common laptop feature. Besides the lower cost compared to software approaches, IT departments and corporate decision-makers will be attracted to the idea of having AES available out of the box. They are likely to conclude that this beats relying on staff to research, purchase and deploy the software on a case-by-case basis.