Seagate's New Self-Encrypting HDD First To Win Key U.S. Government Certification

Seagate Launches New Momentus SED with FIPS 140-2 Standard

by Anton Shilov
09/14/2010 | 10:17 PM

Seagate Technology has announced a new hard disk drive with self-encryption chip that had received FIPS 140-2 certification from the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The drive is aimed at various regulated industries, including healthcare, defense and finance. The company hopes that the novelty will dramatically boost popularity of self-encrypting drives (SEDs).


The key government certification clears the way for deployments of Momentus SEDs by all U.S. and Canadian federal agencies, many state and local governments, and regulated industries such as healthcare, finance and defense required to use FIPS-certified gear to help protect sensitive data on PCs and computer networks. Many utility, education and transportation entities also have adopted the FIPS (Federal Information Processing Standard) 140-2 standard to lock down confidential information. Foreign governments in addition to Canada also recognize FIPS-validated products. The Momentus self-encrypting drive is the first hard drive with native encryption to earn the FIPS certification.

Seagate Momentus hard disk drives with FIPS-compliant encryption are available in 250GB and 500GB capacities and feature 7200rpm spindle speed. The drives are designed for Serial ATA-300 interface and are equipped with 16MB cache. Based on specifications, it is unlikely that the new SEDs will offer leading-edge performance, however, the main advantage of the novelty is security, not performance.

The AES encryption chip in the Momentus SEDs automatically and transparently encrypts all drive data, not just selected files or partitions. The 2.5"drive also eliminates disk initialization and configuration required by encryption software, allows IT administrators to instantly erase all data cryptographically so the drive can be quickly and easily redeployed, and delivers full inline-speed encryption with no impact to system performance. Momentus SEDs keep all security keys and cryptographic operations within the drive, separating them from the operating system to provide greater protection against hacking and tampering than traditional software alternatives, which can give thieves backdoor access to encryption keys and are otherwise more vulnerable to key theft.

The FIPS 140-2 seal of approval comes three years after NIST, the federal agency focused on promoting product innovation by establishing technical standards for government and business, certified the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) chip built into the Momentus drive. Seagate has shipped more than a million of its self-encrypting laptop drives since their introduction in 2006. With the Seagate Momentus with FIPS 140-2 the company hopes to sell another million of SEDs in calendar 2011.