Encryption is a method of hiding information by translating it into a code that is not easily readable. It has a long and storied history, dating as far back as 3,500 years in the past, when Mesopotamian craftsmen wanted to conceal a prized recipe for pottery glaze. In modern times, encryption can be used for everything from sending private text messages to safeguarding government and military secrets. Today, encrypting confidential information can be accomplished with hardware or software.
Breaking Down the Basics of Encryption
In 2001, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) published the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). AES became the successor to the Data Encryption Standard (DES), which had known security flaws. The new AES algorithm was groundbreaking because it was unclassified, yet was capable of protecting the most sensitive secrets in public and private sectors. AES is a symmetric block cipher that was designed to facilitate easy use in both hardware and software. AES is universal in terms of operating systems, as opposed to a software-based encryption algorithm, which would be specific to Windows, Linux, or Apple. AES also offers the following benefits:
- It does not affect the performance of the drive.
- It makes all data inaccessible until authenticated.
- It maintains resiliency against attacks due to an isolated encryption key.
Exploring How Encryption Works
The AES algorithm works with two keys. The encryption key (EK) is responsible for encrypting all of the data on the drive. It is a randomly generated number that is kept in a hidden area of the drive. The EK is inaccessible to everyone, including the manufacturer, and it does not leave the device. The other key is the authorization key (AK), which is set by the user. Even if the user fails to set the AK, the data will be encrypted.
Managing Encrypted Drives
There are two methods for managing an encrypted solid state drive (SSD). The first is via Advanced Technology Attachment (ATA) security. This is often found to be the simplest method, and it is suitable for embedded and industrial applications. It allows the entire drive to be locked and write-protected. The second method is with trusted computing group (TCG) OPAL-compatible software. This is third-party software that offers stronger authentication. However, it is not supported by all drives and hosts.
Delkin offers advanced solutions for engineers, OEMs, and purchasing agents who need reliable encryption for their applications. Some options include the U300A microSD, D300 SD, A370 mSATA, E300 eUSB, and the B300 USB thumb drive. Contact the technical team at Delkin today to request personalized recommendations for your particular industrial application.
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