Use Full Disk Encryption to Secure Your Laptops


Nowadays, it seems that not many months will pass before we encounter yet another high-profile case of data theft or loss of entire laptops. With shipments of laptops surpassing those of desktops, we can expect the situation to worsen, not get better. Expensive enterprise solutions or convoluted configurations aside, is there a simple method or strategy that the SMB can adopt to better defend against data theft via the laptop? That was the question on my mind when I came across Seagate's Momentus FDE (full disk encryption) hard disk drive. FDE incorporated into a hard disk drive means that all data written into the hard disk is transparently encrypted - and decrypted - without the need for operating system awareness or any form of intervention.


This latest generation of FDE hard disks from Seagate comes with capacities of between 160GB and 320GB, and with platter speeds of 5400rpm and 7200rpm, according to this PCWorld.com article. The hard disks encrypt data with military-grade 128-bit AES encryption; a drive of 500GB is expected to be available by the end of the year.


What is unique about Seagate's FDE drives is that they incorporate the authentication mechanism at the firmware layer. Hence, the Momentus can be configured so that it will prompt for a secret password every time the laptop is booted up.


Just imagine how much better you would sleep in a scenario where all the laptops in your organization are equipped with FDE hard disks from Seagate. They can either be acquired together with laptops from vendors such as Lenovo, Fujitsu and NEC - or just purchased separately. Installing them is as simple as swapping the original hard disks with the FDE hard disks.


Obviously, the need to acquire the additional hardware does add to the cost of the solution. However, I believe this is the best solution for an SMB in terms of efficiency and ease of management.