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RunCore Introduces Self-Destructable SSD

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the magic-smoke-that-is dept.

Data Storage 168

jones_supa writes "RunCore announces the global launch of its InVincible solid state drive, designed for mission-critical fields such as aerospace or military. The device improves upon a normal SSD by having two strategies for the drive to quickly render itself blank. First method goes through the disk, overwriting all data with garbage. Second one is less discreet and lets the smoke out of the circuitry by driving overcurrent to the NAND chips. Both ways can be ignited with a single push of a button, allowing James Bond -style rapid response to the situation on the field."

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168 comments

Old News (5, Funny)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | about 2 years ago | (#40028047)

Western Digital has had self-destructing drives for years.

Re:Old News (4, Informative)

Aranykai (1053846) | about 2 years ago | (#40028151)

I think you are forgetting the infamous Hitachi DeskStar...

Re:Old News (3, Informative)

markatto (1893394) | about 2 years ago | (#40028891)

IIRC the "DeathStar" moniker came about back when IBM still owned the brand, before Hitachi bought it.

Re:Old News (2)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 2 years ago | (#40030039)

And if you want one today the Seagate 1Tb and 1.5Tb will happily kill itself and your data! For extra super duper security it will do so at a random time so it even gives you plausible deniability! What a company, so thoughtful.

Re:Old News (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | about 2 years ago | (#40028155)

Western Digital has had self-destructing drives for years.

No, they just fail. The data is usually still they if you have the resources. The hard part is running dban on a failed hard drive.

Re:Old News (2)

Norwell Bob (982405) | about 2 years ago | (#40028295)

Western Digital has had self-destructing drives for years.

No, they just fail. The data is usually still they if you have the resources. The hard part is running dban on a failed hard drive.

You're that guy at the party who ruins a good joke with 'facts', aren't you?

In any event, assuming you've got the resources, rather than running DBAN on a failed disk, you put a few holes in it with a drill press and fill it with epoxy.

OR, use a bulk tape eraser/degaussing wand on it for a little bit.

Re:Old News (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40028311)

Try "G-BAN": http://us.glock.com/products/model/g37gen4

Re:Old News (1)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | about 2 years ago | (#40028173)

That reminds me of a double WD hard drives failure within a week, the main HD and its backup (this happened in a cloudless life). Amazing, they're even synchronized...

Re:Old News (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40029407)

That reminds me of a double WD hard drives failure within a week

This happened to me long ago on 2 occasions with 2 drives bought from another HD vendor who shall remain nameless.

Because of this, I NEVER bought another drive from that vendor.

I NEVER had a WD drive fail on me but they do run HOT (could be used for hotplates to warm up food and what not.... :D )

Re:Old News (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40028455)

I'm surprised they're still using Caviar as a brand name (last I checked). Even though the drives are pretty good these days, the memories still make me wince.

Re:Old News (1)

heypete (60671) | about 2 years ago | (#40028677)

Western Digital has had self-destructing drives for years.

Nice.

Interestingly enough, Western Digital is the only brand of drives I've had a repeatedly good experience with. Maxtor sucked. Seagates sucked for a while. Hitachi sucked. Not sure about Samsung, having never used them. I've only had one WD drive (out of about two dozen) fail inside the warranty period (and that was due to my fault causing a hardware problem; WD still replaced it with no questions asked). The others just keep trucking along.

I guess the old adage "your mileage may vary" still applies.

Re:Old News (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 2 years ago | (#40028835)

I guess the old adage "your mileage may vary" still applies.

I think it's more of a selective reinforcement thing.

Everybody seems to have a brand they're sure fails more than any other so they reinforce their beliefs based on subconscious selection of anecdote.

Me? I prefer WD, too - Velociraptors for performance and 'green' for mass-storage. I don't know if they're any better than other brands but I've got quite a few and never had a problem. The only disks I've owned that actually died on me before they became obsolete were Hitachi and Toshiba.

Re:Old News (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | about 2 years ago | (#40029871)

Same here. That's why I've always had a hard time swallowing the whole "Western Digital drives are crap" meme. If I had to choose a brand as a "crap", it would be Maxtor...I literally had a 0% survival rate beyond 3 years with one of their drives.

Western Digital drives, on the other hand, I've had nothing but good results with. My dad is still using both a 7.9 GB and a 13.1 GB Western Digital drive he bought pre-2000 in his Windows 98SE legacy machine (which I think only recognized up to 32 GB drives or something), and I've got a handful of working, but too small to be practical, WD drives in my workbench in the garage as we speak...just haven't decided what the hell I want to do with them, as there isn't much use for sub-100 GB hard drives these days obviously.

I honestly know it's all anecdotal, and opinions are like assholes, but honestly the only place I've ever heard Western Digital being considered shitty is here on /..

Re:Old News (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 2 years ago | (#40030429)

the only place I've ever heard Western Digital being considered shitty is here on /..

Me too. I think drives like the Velociraptor show they're tech leaders who know a thing or two about making hard disks. I don't see any other brands making disks that come close.

Re:Old News (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 2 years ago | (#40030315)

Shame you never used 'em because Samsung drives ROCK! I have put Samsung drives in construction trailers and shop floors, places where a Seagate or WD wouldn't survive the month and the Samsungs would just keep on purring. Their EcoDrives would often score damned close to the Seagate 7200RPM in my real world tests while being almost 40 degrees cooler. Hell I liked 'em so much when Tiger had the big sale right before the flood I changed out all my drives for Samsung 1Tb and 2Tb models, truly rock solid drives.

And I'm sorry but at least in my experience if you buy Seagates over 640Gb they SUUUUUUCK! The failure rates on their 1Tb and 1.5Tb drives are just nuts. Check out Newegg or tiger and you'll see wall to wall complaints where builders bought those by the dozen and had those fail within 6 months to a year. I bet this is why a lot of the tiger kits now carry the Seagate 500gb instead of the 1Tb they used to have. Now I can't confirm this but the rumor going round is that they have been using shitty Maxtor ARM controllers they got during the buyout and that along with shitty firmware is causing the drives to crap all over themselves. All I know is I had to RMA a bunch of the 1Tb and 1.5Tb drives and frankly ended up relegating them to externals because I wouldn't trust them in new builds.

As for TFA while this is certainly cool tech I bet it'll be expensive as all hell. Anything like this is usually sold to the military where insane markups are king, kinda like how those hardware encrypted flash drives were insanely priced or had teeny tiny sizes compared to the regular drives. Its just a shame this will be crazy priced as it sounds like something that would be great for stolen laptops, just have it toast the drive if they input the wrong password too many times.

Rebranding (4, Funny)

TWX (665546) | about 2 years ago | (#40028049)

...lets the smoke out of the circuitry by driving overcurrent to the NAND chips.

Quality Engineer: "Sir! This entire batch, tens of thousands of units! If we put them into normal conditions they'll blow with overcurrent!"

Senior VP: "Oh hell, what are we going to do? The board'll have our asses!"

Marketing: "I have an idea! We'll market these as self-destructable chips!"

Senior VP: "BRILLIANT!"

Perfect for Children's Toys (2)

Dareth (47614) | about 2 years ago | (#40028051)

Perfect for Children's Toys
Make sure you connect the second "let the magic smoke out" method to a big red button with label that say, "DO NOT PUSH!"

Re:Perfect for Children's Toys (1)

n5vb (587569) | about 2 years ago | (#40028093)

Make sure you connect the second "let the magic smoke out" method to a big red button with label that say, "DO NOT PUSH!"

I've been wanting this on computers for years. I'd also like for the last thing the computer does before it completely dies to be playing a recording of someone saying, "Told you not to push it!"

Re:Perfect for Children's Toys (1)

mcavic (2007672) | about 2 years ago | (#40028523)

playing a recording

10... 9... 8... 6...
Six? What happened to seven??
Just kidding!

Re:Perfect for Children's Toys (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | about 2 years ago | (#40029179)

Even better. Put a big red button on your computer, with a lighted sign above it. "Push to Test". When the button it pressed, the lighted sign changes to "Release to Detonate"

Re:Perfect for Children's Toys (1)

chill (34294) | about 2 years ago | (#40029601)

Hmmm...I guess you never used SPARCstations from Sun. The power button for the system was the upper-right key on the keyboard (Type 5).

I've seen them replaced with red keycaps as well as entire rooms of systems with them physically removed.

Re:Perfect for Children's Toys (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40029755)

This shouldn't be that hard to do, actually. All you should really need is a battery array of D cells (6 should do), and a hard switch (like a light switch, or something). Connect the batteries to the light switch, the light switch to an unused outlet on your motherboard. Flick the switch and watch your computer fry. It might not release smoke, and may be a potential fire hazard, but there you have it.

See: A story on magic. [catb.org]

These should be banned (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40028053)

After all, they are excellent tools for padeophiles and terrorists. Amirite?

Re:These should be banned (1)

Anrego (830717) | about 2 years ago | (#40028089)

In a weird way, they kinda actually are. More specifically, using them. Far as I know, using such a device when suspected of either crime would fall under destruction of property / interfering with investigation laws.

Re:These should be banned (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 2 years ago | (#40028437)

Also for Corporations, lawyers and other paper shredders

(who do far more harm than the terrorists and pedophiles).

Re:These should be banned (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | about 2 years ago | (#40029923)

Goddamn right. A terrorist or pedophile only has a few methods at his disposal to fuck us, but lawyers and corporations spend billions finding new and clever ways to collectively fuck us without us even knowing it every single day.

Re:These should be banned (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#40029435)

After all, they are excellent tools for padeophiles and terrorists. Amirite?

I suspect that it depends how much other evidence they have. Nuking the only copy of something vital might well save you from conviction on more serious charges, at the cost of some sort of obstruction of justice/destruction of evidence charge. If they already have corroborating evidence from other sources, though, the DA will probably just smirk and add another charge, complete with trivially available evidence that makes you look guilty as hell.

"Yes, your honor. We detected child pornography downloads from the IP that the defendant's ISP had assigned to his residence at the time. When we arrived to execute a search warrant, the defendant dove toward his computer and destroyed its hard drive...."

Re:These should be banned (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40029955)

If I remember correctly, if they have evidence that you destroyed evidence the jury can be instructed to assume that the evidence was as damning to you as the prosecution says.

Re:These should be banned (1)

Khashishi (775369) | about 2 years ago | (#40030399)

Perhaps a better option than a button to nuke the drive is a button to replace the contents with something relatively innocuous and mundane.

long distance deleting (2)

DomHawken (1335311) | about 2 years ago | (#40028059)

I'd like a remotely deletable version of this for when I leave important government secrets on the train.

Mission Impossible Style (1)

Shamanin (561998) | about 2 years ago | (#40028075)

Brilliant, disposable (very expensive) hardware! Your mission Dan, is to ... this disk will self-destruct in five seconds.

Ironkey (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40028079)

SSD style. This isn't really new tech.

Encryption (2)

AlexTrustworthy (2635535) | about 2 years ago | (#40028085)

Considering the (mostly) invincible state of good encryption, this seems unnecessary. Sure, it is a fun idea, but not a practical one.

Re:Encryption (2, Insightful)

houstonbofh (602064) | about 2 years ago | (#40028189)

Considering the (mostly) invincible state of good encryption, this seems unnecessary. Sure, it is a fun idea, but not a practical one.

No encryption is invincible. Especially 5 years from now... Computing power has advanced to the point where you can just brute force "invincible encryption" from a few years back...

Re:Encryption (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40028281)

Considering the (mostly) invincible state of good encryption, this seems unnecessary. Sure, it is a fun idea, but not a practical one.

No encryption is invincible. Especially 5 years from now... Computing power has advanced to the point where you can just brute force "invincible encryption" from a few years back...

Really? AES and twofish have been around for more than 5 years, they still can't be brute forced.

Re:Encryption (2)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 2 years ago | (#40028343)

Considering the (mostly) invincible state of good encryption, this seems unnecessary. Sure, it is a fun idea, but not a practical one.

No encryption is invincible. Especially 5 years from now... Computing power has advanced to the point where you can just brute force "invincible encryption" from a few years back...

Short of massive developments into quantum computing, encryption is invincible for a good deal more than five years; and increasing the key size by any arbitrary factor is trivial. Anyone who is choosing key sizes for sensitive applications without taking into consideration Moore's law is probably making a dozen other mistakes in their security anyway.

Re:Encryption (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 2 years ago | (#40028503)

No encryption is invincible. Especially 5 years from now... Computing power has advanced to the point where you can just brute force "invincible encryption" from a few years back...

Um, no. Nobody sensible ever thought systems with 40 or 56 bit keys were "invincible".

128 bits? That's a different story. Moore's law isn't going to help with that, it's simply too big.

Re:Encryption (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | about 2 years ago | (#40028923)

though 256, just to be sure, is probably a good idea for anything really important long term.

cryptographers do, after all, find ways to reduce the cost of attacking particular encrption methods occasionally.

Re:Encryption (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 2 years ago | (#40029663)

256, just to be sure...

256-bit AES turned out weaker than 128-bit AES precisely because some bright spark at NIST followed that line of thinking. (cite) [schneier.com]

cryptographers do, after all, find ways to reduce the cost of attacking particular encrption methods occasionally.

If a system is truly broken then adding more bits probably won't save you.

Re:Encryption (4, Interesting)

doublebackslash (702979) | about 2 years ago | (#40029703)

Considering the (mostly) invincible state of good encryption, this seems unnecessary. Sure, it is a fun idea, but not a practical one.

No encryption is invincible. Especially 5 years from now... Computing power has advanced to the point where you can just brute force "invincible encryption" from a few years back...

A few have pointed out that the keys are too large to brute force. I figure you out to know why that is: http://everything2.com/title/Thermodynamics+limits+on+cryptanalysis [everything2.com]

That is a good little write up on the subject. Short, sweet, and easy to follow. It demonstrates that non quantum 256 bit keys are safe from brute force attacks for... ever.

Two wrenches (one esoteric, one practical): Reversable Computation and Quantum Computers.

First the "practical" one, Quantum Computers. The algorithm for searching an unsorted database for a key is Grover's Algorithm. This gives a speed up of O(N1/2) and a space complexity of O(log N). For a 256 bit key this gives a time complexity of 2**128 and a space complexity of 78. Now, that time complexity will kill you. Move to a 512 bit key and we are back to 2**256 time complexity (jsut like in the linked article). The space complexity goes to 155. It might not seem like a big deal, but adding another qbit to a quantum machine isn't trivial. In fact it is properly hard, and gets harder for every extra qbit. also that space complexity is a multiplier, not a count. you need log N * or something along that scale (Big O notation demonstrates the rate of growth as things go to infinity so small problems can be dominated by other factors till they "scale up"). Obviously even quantum computation isn't going to help crack a 256 bit key and a 512 bit key will restore the same level of security even IF they could be built large enough and numerous enough and fast enough for the 256 bit version (LOTS OF IFS and with an easy out. As pointed out increasing an encryption key's size is relatively trivial)

Now for the one that caused me some trouble, Reversable Computing. Fancy way of saying that the computation is reversable with no energy expended after being performed and reversed (actually arbitrarily little energy appraoching zero as closely as you care to come... kinda. Physical devices pose practical problems, but let us se that asside for a moment). This is a theory, and a good one. The problem is that you need to drive through all of the states. Let us assume that a computation takes one plank time on our perfect reversable computer (this is impossible, of course. It would be far higher even with a "perfect" device, but this is a lower bound given to us by nature). You need 1.4 * 10**16 time the current age of the universe (1.979 * 10**26 years) worth of computer time to go through all the states. Average is half that to find the correct key. Now you'll want to parallelize this computer to get to that (wholly impractical) time faster. How many can you build? How large are they? I'll leave it as an exerccise to the reader to determine how many you might be able to construct before they collapsed into a black hole. Also: 1 plank time is a few dozens of orders of magnitude smaller than any computation done with matter can achieve. It takes 4.48*10**20 plank times for a photon to pass an electron (if wolfram alpha is being nice to me, that is). Scale your time to be, say, the same as the time it takes a photon to cross your theoretical perfect reversable computer and then work out how many you need to complete the cracking of the key within a reasonable time. You'll get a black hole or incredible distances beyond the mortal ken.

Conclusion: Brute forcing any appreciably sized cryptographic key (512 bit or greater) will never, ever be possible no matter what happens with technology so long as computers are made of matter and compute in space. Period.
256 bit keys will remain equally unchallenged until we can create and power quantum computers the size of grains of sand trilions at a time.

Take that Moore's law

Re:Encryption (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40028191)

It would be useful as the OS partition of a server that had a bunch of TrueCrypt partitions on conventional media. That way, if the machine needed to be zapped, it would both kill the OS, and zap any TrueCrypt keyfiles, rending access to the other volumes impossible.

Re:Encryption (1)

TWX (665546) | about 2 years ago | (#40028221)

Flaws in existing encryption techniques are found from time to time. Theoretical computer power doubles every eighteen months. Home computer owners sign up for distributed computing processing projects without really knowing what they're processing, essentially trusting the project leaders to use their computer power altruistically.

I'm sure that there are other possible vectors of attack that can break "unbreakable" encryption. Obviously a lot of information would go obsolete in time, like itineraries, plans that get carried out before encryption is broken, etc, but sometimes that information can be used to fill in pieces of who did something or planned something. Obviously longer-term plans or permanent or semi-permanent installations (like locations of sensitive materials) might still be relevant when encryption is finally broken.

Re:Encryption (1)

pentalive (449155) | about 2 years ago | (#40028383)

Using masses of GPUs instead of the slow cpu to do decryption work?

Re:Encryption (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#40029729)

Using masses of GPUs instead of the slow cpu to do decryption work?

GPUs and FPGAs have, in a number of cases, moved attacks on known-vulnerable systems from 'theoretical; but of great concern' to 'desktop, you don't even need 3-phase 220' faster than other technologies would have; but the cryptographic systems that are actually trusted tend to be of the 'barring fundamental breakthroughs in either mathematics or physics, converting all the mass in the solar system into crypto-chips it would merely shave a few zeros off the expected time...' variety.

Re:Encryption (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 2 years ago | (#40028551)

128 bit (or bigger) encryption keys aren't going to be brute forced.

It simply isn't - do the math sometime.

Re:Encryption (2)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 2 years ago | (#40028245)

Encryption done right is invincible. Encryption is rarely done right. Specifically, the keys are often exposed in ways they shouldn't be.

Re:Encryption (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40028345)

Hell, combine encryption with this drive and I am pretty sure you should be able to create a blackhole with it.

Now you just need to get rid of your eyes and take a trip to the outer planets in a large space ship for no real reason... there isn't voices in my head calling me, honest.

Re:Encryption (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40028895)

On the contrary:

"Sure, it is a fun idea, but not a practical one." ...it is eminently practical.

If you push the green button (you *did* watch the video, right?) the drive is instantly erased. So... the '$5 wrench technique' of decryption is no longer possible: you can be forced to give your password, yes; but it won't matter, since the drive will be unrecoverably deleted. Who knows when that was done, or even if it *had* been done? Perhaps the drive was new, and you hadn't gotten around to putting anything on it yet?

This is the answer to bullshit government anti-privacy laws that force you to reveal your passwords on demand (as in the UK - and coming to a US state near you...) to whichever of the TSA/DHS/etc. bully-boys should happen to 'suspect' you of something.

One assumes proper and fully encrypted backups - perhaps placed in the cloud from a remote location (Starbucks?) using a machine with a twiddled MAC address, booted from a USB stick.

This is a close-to-perfect drive solution, and I will be buying one.

Re:Encryption (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 2 years ago | (#40029295)

If you push the green button (you *did* watch the video, right?) the drive is instantly erased. So... the '$5 wrench technique' of decryption is no longer possible: you can be forced to give your password, yes; but it won't matter, since the drive will be unrecoverably deleted. Who knows when that was done, or even if it *had* been done? Perhaps the drive was new, and you hadn't gotten around to putting anything on it yet?

Doesn't a second, hidden encrypted volume also do this (with the added advantage that you don't actually have to hit the Self-destruct button, you only need to say that you did it)? When the guys with the wrench come, you tell them, "Hey, I already deleted the data - the decryption key is L0lCatzAreCr@zyC00l". Which decrypts an empty partition (or one that's full of your LolCats collection)

(I typed my real passphrase above, but I'm not worried since Slashdot has a filter that automatically masks passwords into "*******************").

Re:Encryption (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40029383)

Not really.

Hidden volumes can be - even if not with 100% reliability - shown to exist. And if there's any data at all on the drive you've got issues. The drive-wipe on this gadget takes it down to nothing but endless "fffff"s.

A completely wiped drive (used, for example, as a home directory) is a sure thing.

"Password? Oh, I don't have anything to hide, officer. Never use 'em. Help yourself - just turn it on..."

Re:Encryption (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#40029581)

Considering the (mostly) invincible state of good encryption, this seems unnecessary. Sure, it is a fun idea, but not a practical one.

I suspect that(aside from simply being relatively cheap to implement, and having some expected sales based on the 'cool' factor alone) the real purpose of any system purporting to substitute for, or complement, disk encryption is to deal with weaknesses unrelated to the cryptographic system itself.

As best we know, contemporary crypto systems with keys of reasonable length are not breakable in any useful sense. However, since humans who can store keys of reasonable length are vanishingly rare, most such systems must weaken themselves by storing a good chunk of the key somewhere where it can be recovered(on the device, with a password/passphrase, embedded in a smartcard/fob that is merely expensive and inconvenient to crack and extract, etc.)

If you just hand somebody an AES blob and tell them to come up with the correct 256 bits for themselves, they are SOL. If somebody's HDD is encrypted such that it can be unlocked with a password it is quite likely that dictionary-aided brute force will be enough. If the key is on a smartcard IC it might not be cheap to pull the key; but they don't produce those things in volume for a few bucks a chip, at most, by using all available security features...

Self-destruct designed for use on planes? (3, Insightful)

robthebloke (1308483) | about 2 years ago | (#40028117)

I'm sure the TSA will be perfectly reasonable about people carrying those onto planes....

Re:Self-destruct designed for use on planes? (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 2 years ago | (#40028429)

Yes, we all know the dangerous explosive forces involved in letting the magic smoke out of an IC.

(I'm pretty sure you're joking, but the person who modded you insightful apparently wasn't so...)

Where's the TSA headed? (1)

macraig (621737) | about 2 years ago | (#40028459)

The inevitable progression of the TSA will be that pre-flight pat-downs and strip searches won't be necessary: people will simply be required to travel in the buff. Oh, the poor stewardesses!

Re:Where's the TSA headed? (1)

damien_kane (519267) | about 2 years ago | (#40028839)

The inevitable progression of the TSA will be that pre-flight pat-downs and strip searches won't be necessary: people will simply be required to turn around at the gate and go home, instead of boarding their flight.

There, FTFY

It's already implemented (1, Informative)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | about 2 years ago | (#40028127)

After a few month of usage, SSD suffer from multiple writes (to same locations) and die. (See this [codinghorror.com].) Depending on algorithms, the lifespan of a SSD varies.
So it's already here, the difference is that a regular SSD fails randomly... (and you may be able to recover some data)

Re:It's already implemented (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | about 2 years ago | (#40028313)

After a few month of usage, SSD suffer from multiple writes (to same locations) and die. (See this [codinghorror.com].) Depending on algorithms, the lifespan of a SSD varies. So it's already here, the difference is that a regular SSD fails randomly... (and you may be able to recover some data)

That was one of the best links I have ever followed on slashdot. If only for the quote, "I use my SSD fully expecting it to fail. Just like I date crazy girls fully expecting them to stab me: Always have that backup plan!"

Beautiful!

Re:It's already implemented (2)

EdZ (755139) | about 2 years ago | (#40028431)

More like years rather than months unless you're pumping through terabytes of data a day. The point is moot, however: SSDs do not store data continuously like HDDs do: your data can be spread across blocks, across chips, compressed AND encrypted all at the same time. Take out the allocation table, and all that data is now randomly arranged bits. And because erased data on NAND is truly erased*, you just need to wipe that little bit of memory to effectively securely erase the whole SSD. If you wanted to be hilariously over-cautious, keep your allocation table on fast volatile memory.

* This is also true for any HDD in the last decade or two if you run ATA SECURE ERA SE command. All those fancy multi-pass erasers and mechanical destroyers are essentially pointless.

Re:It's already implemented (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40028603)

The part about secure erasing rendering erasers pointless is one of the dumber things I've heard lately.

It's not that we don't really trust our drive to erase things, it's that we don't trust our OS and its applicable file system(s) to delete things completely when we click delete. It's been well known for at least 30 or so years that various operating systems don't delete things when you say delete, they simply mark that file as gone and allow the space to be reused. The content is still there and can be retrieved by myriad tools out there.

The purpose of the multipass eraser programs is to ensure that our data is gone by telling the OS to tell its file system to overwrite our data with multiple passes of gibberish. As soon as all the operating systems out there give us commands to utilize hard drive based erase functionality OR allow us to change delete to mean securely deleted for good, eraser programs will be necessary.

Re:It's already implemented (1)

EdZ (755139) | about 2 years ago | (#40029799)

You appear to have fallen to the age-old (or rather, about 15 year old) myth that there is a readable 'echo' of a bit after it has been overwritten. This is false, and has been ever since the magneto-resistive head was introduced (and especially the GMR head around 2000). Even with a magnetic force microscope you're not going to be reading squat other than the current bit value (or rather, the current analogue value that would then have to be processed along with the preceding and following values into what is probably the bit that you wrote). While it may have been true - in the days when a R/W head actually had a little coil of wire in it and capacities were measured in megabytes - that you could throw a few hundred engineers at a platter with a MFM and maybe recover a little bit of coherent data, that is no longer true. The amount of data you'd need to comb through if you could recover it perfectly (which you can't) is so immense that you'd need an army working 24/7 for decades. Even if you knew the precise data you were looking for and it's precise location on the platter, if you wrote a single zero pass over that location no MFM would be able to read anything useful, or the same head that was used in the MHM would be used in HDDs and you;d be back to square one.

The ATA SECURE ERASE command tells the head to write zeroes over the entire surface of the platter. Regular write-random-crap-a-bunch-of-times software such as DBAN fail to erase sectors in the G-list, which could subsequently be recovered (albeit unlikely to contain anything interesting). it won't erase sectors in the factory P-list, but nothing was ever written there in the first place. This is sufficient to make any data that was on the drive totally unrecoverable. Hell, ATA SECURE ERASE is NIST-approved for government and military data destruction at the same level as physical destruction of the platters.

Re:It's already implemented (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40030159)

The part about multiple passes being necessary is one of the dumber things I've heard lately. One overwriting pass is enough to render the previous data unrecoverable.

Re:It's already implemented (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 2 years ago | (#40029611)

That's interesting. So, are we to assume byte-level granularity on writes and not blocks? Blocks that could be read? Blocks that might contain information like passwords or names of undercover agents?

Garbage data?? (2)

DWMorse (1816016) | about 2 years ago | (#40028149)

So it installs Windows ME on itself? Chilling.

Re:Garbage data?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40028435)

Hilarious! I bet you're the star of all the DECUS meetings.

Re:Garbage data?? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40028713)

"Welcome to Hell. How can I make your stay more comfortable."

"I'd like a computer to go check Slashdot."

"Ok, you can use the computer lab right over there."

"WTF! This computer is running Windows ME on a Pentium 1. Wait, so is this one."

"They all use Windows ME."

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

InVincible (2)

Fwipp (1473271) | about 2 years ago | (#40028255)

Sounds like their marketing team has been taking naming cues from supervillains lately.
"Sure, it's InVincible... as long as you don't push this shiny red self-destruct button."

A third way they self-destruct (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40028275)

Those familiar with the research will note that a third method has
been omitted from the article -
use the device in a Windows 7 deployment.

Virus Attackers will enjoy (1)

na1led (1030470) | about 2 years ago | (#40028305)

Now the Hackers can write a virus that will Wipe and Smoke your hard drive if you refuse to buy their Malware Antivirus Scam!

Why so high tech? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#40028411)

A nice 1/8th inch layer of thermite with an igniter over the chips will do just nicely.

FAKE Encryption (1)

wisebabo (638845) | about 2 years ago | (#40028555)

Does anyone offer a product (hardware or software) that rewrites a disk with "fake" encryption?

I mean, how about encrypting worthless or random data, or even better if you know your adversary, misleading data?

(The capabilities of our latest super secret bomber are contained in this document, what the enemy should never find out is that it is incapable of flying above 50,000 ft. So let's hope they never figure out the 4-digit PIN, I mean encryption key "0000".)

If used on something that the enemy thinks is valuable enough, you could really force them to spend lots of time trying to decrypt something. (The White House had no comment today on a report that President Obama lost his personal BlackBerry while at the G-8 summit. It has not been verified if, in fact, the hotel housekepers were Chinese nationals at the Hyatt hotel. However due to the chain being recently acquired by a Chinese military corporation, officials cannot rule out that possibility.)

Wasn't there a Stanislaw Lem book that postulated mankind receiving an indecipherable alien signal? Upon more and more sophisticated analysis, the message "seemed" to hint at deeper and deeper levels of meaning that *just* eluded the investigators. It seemed that they were just projecting their own hopes and fears onto what was really a random signal.

(Oh, I just noticed a previous post that says it installs Windows CE, or other garbage data).

Re:FAKE Encryption (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40029599)

That is a really stupid question. Why wouldn't you just take an off-the-shelf full-disk-encryption product, and fill the volume with whatever misleading data you wanted?

Also, aside from the fact that messing with the kind of agencies you're discussing is very high risk for you in the first place, some countries have laws forcing you to disclose encryption keys. In the event they do believe the lies you're spinning them and you can't actually decrypt whatever "fake" data you've created, you could be locked up for a very long time over nothing. Bet you'd feel clever then!

Ok, really? (1)

JamesP (688957) | about 2 years ago | (#40028773)

"First method goes through the disk, overwriting all data with garbage"

That's the WORSE possible way to "self destruct"

Do you know why in flash memory they have to work differently then on a spinning disk?

Erasing blocks takes a lot of time. Exactly because it's erasing a whole block!

Erasing and then overriding seems pointless (even though theoretically you could dissolve the chip in acid and then measure the charges there to see if you can recover traces of data)

The second way seems much more promising.

And by the way, "InVincible"?! Really? It should be the opposite of that!

Re:Ok, really? (1)

firewrought (36952) | about 2 years ago | (#40030199)

"First method goes through the disk, overwriting all data with garbage"

That's the WORSE possible way to "self destruct"

Not if you want to reuse the disk, e.g., clear off corporate data before donating and writing down old computer equipment.

Also, are we sure that the overcurrent will completely destroy the data on an SSD? I think of the 2001 incident where a U.S. spy plane was forced to land in China [wikipedia.org] and did not have time to destroy all intelligence data in the 15-30 min. before they were forced off the plane at gunpoint. An overwrite followed by overcurrent seems like it'd be the best protection against a 3rd party with the resources needed to physically examine the drive.

Re:Ok, really? (1)

JamesP (688957) | about 2 years ago | (#40030477)

Makes sense if you want to reuse the disk and don't want to use a computer to rewrite it.

I think the overcurrent is not just "to the chip" but may be exactly tied to the erasing process, so you just "fry" (over erase) the memory cells

And that's exactly the point, if you're in a critical situation (like at gunpoint) you don't want to waste time with "overwriting" but should just go to the overcurrent method.

Re:Ok, really? (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 2 years ago | (#40030371)

Use glass substrate hard drive platters. Install a pin with a compressed spring. If you need to self-destruct the drive, release the pin and shatter the platters (at 7200 or 10k RPM). Instant maracas!

Thermite baby (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40028799)

Just wrap the box in an itty bitty bag of thermite. On the inside of the drive you have an indulated pouch of TNT. When the thermite finally heats up the TNT, all you have left is a very scattered assortment of mellted little bits (you kids can chortle over that pun)!

The DriveInator (2)

bokmann (323771) | about 2 years ago | (#40028825)

Dr. Doofenschmirtz is head of their R&D Department. Marketing wouldn't let him call it the "Driveinator"

fake video (1)

Inigo Montoya (31674) | about 2 years ago | (#40028935)

nice fake video.. photoshopped nand chips. I've never seen a chip destroy itself in that manner, as they've shown.

The chip itself is always in the dead center of the carrier, nand flash is bigger than most chips, but still centered in the carrier package. usually the chips overheat, expand the air in the packaging and blow a single crack or blow the top off. not multiple swirly cracks like they've shown for the oohhh..awwww... effect.

And the silkscreen is distorted and swirled too. That just won't happen and it's a smoking gun. Would you trust your data with a company from China that is obviously faking its advertising in such a despicable way?

Encryption would be more secure (1)

travellerjohn (772758) | about 2 years ago | (#40028951)

I am sure the last thing you want to rely on in a crisis is someone fumbling with a RAID array full of SSDs. Far better to encrypt the data. Power off the unit, you loose the key and all you have is a random collection of 1 and 0.

productizing failure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40029171)

I must have had an early prototype of this, my RunCore drive self destructed on it's own. Way to turn poor quality into a feature!

Learn English... (1)

mj1856 (589031) | about 2 years ago | (#40029473)

Doesn't invincible imply that it CAN'T be destroyed? Oh wait, they cased it InVincible, nevermind...

That's why I carry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40030193)

a DBAN disc everywhere I go, right next to my derringer and cyanide capsule.

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