Self-destruct sequence fractures the NAND in ultra-secure SSD

— 6:00 AM on October 1, 2014

SSDs with full-drive encryption are a dime a dozen these days. A UK-based company called SecureDrives is taking data security much further, though. It's developed a line of SSDs with robust encryption, two-factor authentication, and a novel self-destruct mechanism.

256-bit AES encryption is just the beginning for the Autothysis SSD, which can use a physical token or smartphone app for secondary authentication. Those unlocking mechanisms are completely separate from the host machine's operating system and software, so they should be less vulnerable to tampering.

To keep precious data out of the wrong hands, the drive can scramble itself by "flipping" the encryption key. If that's not enough, there's an actual self-destruct routine that involves "fracturing the NAND Flash storage and security processor, effectively giving the same result as taking a hammer to the drive."

The self-destruct sequence can be triggered automatically if the SATA connection is interrupted or any physical tampering is detected. External power isn't required, either; the drive's internal battery has enough juice to fuel self destruction all on its own. There's also an embedded GSM module that allows users to kill the drive remotely via a text message. Naturally, the drive can be configured to commit suicide if the battery runs too low or if the GSM hardware goes without a signal for a predetermined period of time.

All of this is wildly excessive for the vast majority of users, but it's still pretty cool. Too bad the underlying SSD is kind of a dud. There's no word on the controller, but the NAND comes from 20-nm Micron MLC stock, and the SATA interface is limited to 3Gbps. Peak sequential throughput clocks in at a mere 127MB/s. Then there's the price: $1665 for a 128GB drive, which works out to over $13/GB. And that only includes one year of GSM service.

You didn't think an SSD worthy of James Bond would be cheap, did you? Thanks to Gizmodo for the tip.

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