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Data Storage Security The Military Hardware

RunCore Introduces Self-Destructable SSD 168

Posted by timothy
from the magic-smoke-that-is dept.
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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RunCore Introduces Self-Destructable SSD

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  • Old News (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anne_Nonymous (313852) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @11:10AM (#40028047) Homepage Journal

    Western Digital has had self-destructing drives for years.

    • Re:Old News (Score:5, Informative)

      by Aranykai (1053846) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [resnogls]> on Thursday May 17, 2012 @11:19AM (#40028151)

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

      • Re:Old News (Score:5, Funny)

        by wulfmans (794904) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @11:38AM (#40028427)
        It's DeathStar get it right !
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by markatto (1893394)
        IIRC the "DeathStar" moniker came about back when IBM still owned the brand, before Hitachi bought it.
      • by hairyfeet (841228)
        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.
      • Good morning, Mr. Phelps...

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        In anticipation of this article my Adata SSD died last week. It is the second SSD I have had fail, the first being an Intel model which ran out of spare blocks and started corrupting data. I was able to save my data. The Adata one just stopped responding completely, all data lost, had to go to a week old backup.

        SSDs are supposed to be more robust, but two out of three I have owned have failed. Touch wood but I have owned a lot of HDDs over the years and the failure rate has been much lower. Small sample siz

    • 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.

      • 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.

      • Drill several holes through the body of the HDD.

    • 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 (Score:4, Funny)

        by houstonbofh (602064) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @11:43AM (#40028511)
        You didn't include the "Export HD failure" flag in your rsync command did you? Newbie mistake...
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        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...

        This is totally f@#$ standard. There are two drives bought at the same shop at the same time. Do you think the manufacturers specially made sure to mix them all in with drives from different places? They aren't even just the same batch. They have probably been produced within seconds of each other.

        What do you think happens when a drive fails? Some capacitor has been made with the wrong chemicals; some piece of metal has impurities. Some bit was screwed too tight and is weakening the rest of the str

      • by plover (150551) *

        I think it was Steven Wright who asked "If one synchronized swimmer drowns, do they all have to drown?"

    • by linear a (584575)
      And how, we're having a 30-40 % failure rate on Western Digital drives after 1 year.
    • by heypete (60671)

      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.

      • by Joce640k (829181)

        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.

      • 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

        • by Joce640k (829181)

          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.

      • by hairyfeet (841228)

        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 drive

    • by Idbar (1034346)
      Here I was thinking that was the technology Seagate bought from Maxtor.
  • Rebranding (Score:5, Funny)

    by TWX (665546) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @11:10AM (#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!"

  • by Dareth (47614) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @11:10AM (#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!"

    • by n5vb (587569)

      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!"

      • by mcavic (2007672)

        playing a recording

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

      • 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"
      • by chill (34294)

        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.

      • Mine will sing "Daisy Bell" and a logarithmically slower pace.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    After all, they are excellent tools for padeophiles and terrorists. Amirite?
    • by Anrego (830717) *

      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.

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      Also for Corporations, lawyers and other paper shredders

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

      • 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.
    • 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

  • I'd like a remotely deletable version of this for when I leave important government secrets on the train.
    • Just put your encryption keys on an IronKey drive and call it a day. Why destroy a perfectly good SSD when you can just render the contents unreadable?
  • Brilliant, disposable (very expensive) hardware! Your mission Dan, is to ... this disk will self-destruct in five seconds.

  • Considering the (mostly) invincible state of good encryption, this seems unnecessary. Sure, it is a fun idea, but not a practical one.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by houstonbofh (602064)

      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...

      • 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.

      • by Joce640k (829181)

        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.

        • 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.

          • by Joce640k (829181)

            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 (Score:5, Interesting)

        by doublebackslash (702979) <doublebackslash@gmail.com> on Thursday May 17, 2012 @01:04PM (#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

    • by TWX (665546)
      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
      • by pentalive (449155)
        Using masses of GPUs instead of the slow cpu to do decryption work?
        • 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.

      • by Joce640k (829181)

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

        It simply isn't - do the math sometime.

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

      • In the case of truecrypt with an AES-Twofish-AES cypher chain for example:
        You have little to no chance to analyze the image for clues.
        What you can do is brute force the password used to generate the key.
        Sadly, most users select a password only (no password + keyfile/dongle) and select only alphanumeric characters with a total length < 10 characters.
        That keyspace is very very small.
        you could even throw in the oxford dictionary and try all 2,3,4 word combos + common misspellings and still manage the time t

    • 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 s

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

      Even for encrypted data this can be added as an extra measure to the user's security toolkit. Maybe there was some problem in the encryption process, or the cipher is found weak, or someone will be able to crack the data in the future with brute force. This gives you the last bit of extra protection, the kind of "nuking it from the orbit is the only way to be sure".

  • by robthebloke (1308483) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @11:16AM (#40028117)
    I'm sure the TSA will be perfectly reasonable about people carrying those onto planes....
    • 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...)

    • 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!

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      Meh, laptop batteries have offered an easy way to start a fire for years and no-one seems to care.

  • 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)
    • 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!

    • by EdZ (755139)
      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 h
      • 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?

        • by EdZ (755139)
          The bytes on the NAND itself are encrypted and have not guarantee whatsoever of being contiguous. Even if you have a mythical public-key-breaking quantum computer at your disposal, you'd still need to arrange a few gigabytes of 4kb blocks (pages) into the correct order just to get the ciphertext to start with.
    • by jamstar7 (694492)
      Or, in the words of Microsoft, "That's not a bug, it's a feature!"
  • by DWMorse (1816016) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @11:19AM (#40028149) Homepage
    So it installs Windows ME on itself? Chilling.
    • by Hentes (2461350)

      Why the hell do they need to rewrite it anyway? In a flash memory rewriting starts with erasing the whole sector, why not just stop after that?

      • by Guspaz (556486)

        secure erase on an SSD doesn't write anything. It just erases everything, which has the benefit of being virtually instant.

  • Don't you mean Ethan Hunt?

    [This message will self destruct in 5 seconds]

  • by Fwipp (1473271) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @11:26AM (#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."

  • Now the Hackers can write a virus that will Wipe and Smoke your hard drive if you refuse to buy their Malware Antivirus Scam!
  • A nice 1/8th inch layer of thermite with an igniter over the chips will do just nicely.

    • by Ksevio (865461)
      That's a bit more dangerous of a solution and probably would create some issues with shipping the devices.
  • 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 v

  • "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

    • 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!

  • by bokmann (323771) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @12:07PM (#40028825) Homepage

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

How often I found where I should be going only by setting out for somewhere else. -- R. Buckminster Fuller

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