Inline hardware disk encryption

Written by Cornelius J. van Dyk on . Posted in Blog

If you’re like me, you’ve probably not given data encryption on your home PC a second thought. Sure, most employers use some form of data encryption or another for our corporate laptops, but at home it’s a totally different story. I’m in the process of evaluating my server hardware at home, the topic of encryption came back up.

The problem with encryption is that it’s a pain to implement and use. If you’re doing file level encryption, you have to remember to encrypt your files or you have to remember to save your files in an encrypted folder. That sounds too much like work, so most of us just won’t even bother.

The other alternative is to have whole disk encryption. The down side to that is that it adds a software abstraction layer between the hardware and operating system which takes CPU cycles to process thus taking away from your system horsepower… i.e. it slows the computer down. Now if it’s implemented in conjunction with a hardware upgrade, you may not notice it and it might be OK. Mostly though, it’s not. Nobody wants to give up CPU cycles.

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The only true solution is actual hardware based encryption. Something that can encrypt the data on the fly as it’s being written to the disk, but without taking any of your CPU cycles for it. It must read, write, cache and encrypt completely self sufficient.

Enter Addonics with their new Dual CipherChain (CCM35MK2). This little beauty lives in one of your 5.25” drive bays and configuration is dead simple. Connect your SATA drives (it supports two), to the card. Connect the output port of the card to the motherboard. Insert the encryption keys and you’re good to go! The device provides real time 256-bit AES encryption and at just over $150, it’s a small price to pay for the safety of your data.

I’ll report back in the future on my experience with this device.



Cheers
C




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Cornelius J. van Dyk

Born and raised in South Africa during the 70's I got my start in computers when a game on my Sinclair ZX Spectrum crashed, revealing it's BASIC source code. The ZX had a whopping 48K of memory which was considered to be a lot in the Commodore Vic20 era, but more importantly, it had BASIC built into the soft touch keyboard. Teaching myself to program, I coded my first commercial program at age 15.

After graduating high school at 17, I joined the South African Air Force, graduating the Academy and becoming a Pilot with the rank of First Lieutenant by age 20. After serving my country for six years, I made my way back into computer software.

Continuing my education, I graduated Suma Cum Laude from the Computer Training Institute before joining First National Bank where my work won the Smithsonian Award for Technological Innovation in the field of Banking and Insurance. Soon I met Will Coleman from Amdahl SA, who introduced me to a little known programming language named Huron/ObjectStar. As fate would have it, this unknown language and Y2K brought me to the USA in 1998.

I got involved with SharePoint after playing around with the Beta for SharePoint Portal Server 2003. Leaving my career at Rexnord to become a consultant in 2004, I was first awarded the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Award for SharePoint in 2005, becoming only the 9th MVP for WSS at the time. I fulfilled a life long dream by pledging allegiance to the Flag as a US citizen in 2006. I met the love of my life and became a private consultant in 2008. I was honored to receive my ninth MVP award for SharePoint Server in 2013.

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