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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

the self-destructing hard drives and the highest capacity memory card !

Technology improvement dazzles ….. what sells most now-a-days is ‘memory cards’  - hundreds of manufacturers market thousands of memory cards and devices built to SD standards in a variety of storage capacities, speed classes and three different physical sizes: SD, miniSD, and microSD. SD memory cards are typically used in personal computers, video cameras, digital cameras and other large consumer electronics devices. The microSD and miniSD cards are commonly used in smaller electronic devices like mobile phones and tablet computers.

In the 1980s, when the World wondered how useful and how great storage of information a PC is – the IBM of those days started with 256 kB, achievable through the installation of 64 kB on the motherboard and three 64 kB expansion cards.  IBM sold the first IBM PCs in configurations with 16 or 64 kB of RAM preinstalled.  A couple of versions later came the floppy disk ….the initial ones were unwieldy – then came the modern  3.5” floppy disk introduced by Sony in 1981,  considered such a novelty mainly because it could be carried out in pocket. It could contain vast data of 1.44 mb – hailed as marvel.

A couple of months back, SanDisk launched its Ultra microSDXC UHS-1 128GB memory card which was priced around Rs.10000/-. SanDisk claimed  that the Ultra microSDXC UHS-1 memory card is the world's "highest capacity microSDXC memory card" with 128GB storage.  The new 128GB SanDisk memory card can, according SanDisk, store up to 16 hours of full-HD videos, a total of 7,500 songs, 3200 images and over 125 apps. The new SDXC cards are said to be designed for Android-powered smartphones and tablets. Further, the company details that the new cards can read data at speeds up to 30MB/s for quick file transfer, apart from being waterproof and temperature proof.

Remember Rajni starrer Sivaji the Boss -  where the hero was a Software systems architect  who returns home with dreams of giving back to society -  free medical treatment and education.  All his financial details are kept in laptop which opens with ‘voice recognition’.  By a sudden quirk, Sivaji is arrested, fakes his death  – and the Police aided by Adhi (Suman) try to unlock it to unearth all the details.  They even try doing that with mimicry artists – but in the end, when the ‘permissible attempts’ fail, the laptop destroys all the contained data. 

Most of us store so much of information in our desktops / laptops / mobiles and other gadgets – that people are constantly worried of safe-keep of data and loss of mobile is associated with fear of personal data falling into wrong hands. 

Apple’s iphone was promoted to be very secure – it had its data encrypted and cracking it open was touted to be toughest.  Besides, the data would get scored in ‘icloud’ – a cloud storage from Apple Inc which has millions of users.  The service allows users to store data such as music and iOS applications on remote computer servers for download to multiple devices such as iOS-based devices running iOS 5 or later, and personal computers running OS X 10.7.2 "Lion" or later, or Microsoft Windows (Windows Vista service pack 2 or later).  But the World was in for a rude shock, when in end Aug 2014, a collection of almost 500 private pictures of various celebrities—mostly of women celebrities were circulated on the web as leaked from the devices / icloud storage. Apple later confirmed that the hackers responsible for the leak had obtained the images using a "very targeted attack" on account information, such as passwords, rather than any specific security vulnerability in the iCloud service itself.

In this background, read this 'Mission Impossible' hard drive as reported in Mailonline on 2nd Oct 2014.  For many, self-destructing Snapchat messages and wiping their phone when it’s stolen is the closest they’ll come to needing to destroy data on a device. But, for people who work with highly sensitive documents and official secrets - or are extremely paranoid about protecting their personal data - there is now a range of self-destructing hard drives. Reminiscent of the gadgets in Mission Impossible, the drives can be wiped instantly simply by sending a text message - but they come with a spy price tag of £1,000 ($1,600).

The Autothysis128s and Autothysis128t  are 2.5-inch solid state drives, that are controlled using a free smartphone app. When a user loses the drive, they send a text to the device and the storage is destroyed automatically. There are three self-destructing drives available from London-based Secure Drives, as well as a Master Kill Switch. Prices start at £938 ($1,500) (Rs.95000 approx), for the Autothysis DSP. The drives each have 128GB of encrypted storage and can be fitted to computers, or connected externally using a USB port. They also have built-in GSM, or cellular technology, which means they can receive text messages.

When a user loses the drive, or wants to permanently delete the data on it, they send a text to the device and the storage is destroyed. In addition to a text message, the data can be destroyed by turning off the GSM signal, entering a PIN too many times incorrectly, removing the drive from a PC, when the battery falls below a certain level, or using an optional authentication token.  After the first year, customers also have to pay an extra £29 ($47) for a yearly GSM subscription.

So what are you waiting for – one need not be a Tom Cruise – the Mission of destroying the data is no longer impossible. The firm also sells a Master Kill Switch, which can be wirelessly connected to up to 50 computers in a network. Turning the key on the switch automatically wipes the data from all connected computers. Prices for the kill switch are not listed on the site.  …. Destruction too comes at a price though !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

4th Nov. 2014.

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