Security & Ease of Use: Why Govt. Agencies Prefer FIPS 140-2 Removable Drives

CANADA

  • Jan 2013, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC): Data pertaining to student’s loans program of nearly 583,000 Canadians was lost from a portable hard drive that was left unsecured for extended periods of time and lacked password protection and encryption. The files contained names, social insurance numbers, contact information and more. (Assorted sources)

USA

  • Apr 2009: An external hard drive with personally identifiable information from the Executive Office of the President during the Clinton administration is missing from a National Archives and Records Administration facility near Washington. (Source: Federal Healthcare Forum)
  • Mar 2013: A thief broke into the home of an employee of a counseling and treatment center with several locations across southern Arizona. An external hard drive containing names, DOBs and treatment plans of over 3,000 patients who visited the centers between 2011 and 2013 was stolen. (Source: Navigant.com).
  • May 2006, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA): A thief breaks into the home of an employee and takes away a laptop and external hard-drive containing sensitive information such as Names, Dates-Of-Birth, and Social Security Numbers of thousands of U.S. Veterans and their spouses. (Source: Datanymity)

UK
(Source: Wikipedia)

  • Sept 2010, Brighton General Hospital: Hard drives containing patient data were stolen.
  • Oct 2008, Ministry of Defence: Hard drive being held by contractor EDS is found to be missing.
  • Sept 2008, Service Personnel and Veterans Agency: Three USB portable hard drives with details of staff are allegedly stolen from a high security facility at RAF Innsworth. The Agency holds records on 900,000 current and former personnel. Stolen records included sensitive information about the private lives of senior staff.
  • Sept 2008, National Offender Management Service: A hard drive containing details of 5,000 employees of the National Offender Management Service was lost by EDS.
  • July 2007, Ministry of Justice: Hard disk with details of HM Prison Service staff is lost on the premises of EDS.
  • May 2007, Driving Standards Agency: Hard disk with details of candidates for the driving theory test was lost in a premise by subcontractors.

All these incidents are a scary reminder that external hard drives, removable hard drives and portable hard drives are highly vulnerable to theft. That is why, Government Organizations around the world are increasingly demanding that data at rest should be encrypted to protect against loss or theft. The FIPS 140-2 encryption standard is becoming the standard requirement in all US federal government requirements for storage products. This includes external hard drives which are used widely across agencies for transporting data, when and where required.

The Mobile DataVault series from Olixir Technologies is a popular choice of external and hard drives, having been widely deployed by many U.S. Government agencies with positive reviews. All products in this family have an option for an add-on FIPS 140-2 encryption module that is NIST certified.

In addition to security, these external and removable drives pack various features that make it the ideal choice, including:

  • High capacity: These drives have higher capacity than most portable drives, ranging from 120 GB to 4TB (5TB coming soon). This is at least double the capacity of most portable drives that currently max typically at 2TB or less.
  • Reliability: The Mobile DataVault drives protect from the leading causes of hard drive failure – they are shock protected (see below for more), offer superior cooling, and use carefully qualified internal bare drives that are known to have excellent reliability in the industry (whereas, many other portable drive compromise by using less reliable, cheap bare drives).
  • Rugged: These drives have industry leading patented shock protection of up to 1,200 Gs to over 10,000 Gs (depending on model), enabling it to be handled and transported safely. Consider that just a tiny ¼” drop of a bare 3.5” hard drive can damage it – Olixir’s patented technology solves this problem.
  • Fast performance: Sustained data transfer rate in excess of 100 MB/s with USB 3.0 and eSATA.
  • Ease of Use: Plug-and-play with most popular operating systems and the new Mobile DataVault F-series family has no switches to hassle with.
  • Versatility: A stand-out feature of Olixir’s drives is the versatile interface that allows for interchangeable use of the drive with standalone cable (i.e. USB 3.0/2.0 or eSATA cable), or the drive can be inserted into and ejected from a 5.25” docking bay (i.e. it becomes a removable drive), 19” rack or tower. This versatility provides time savings for applications that require a combination of centralized and deployed drives.
  • Portable, handheld package

At the end of the day, buying a superior external hard drive requires buyers to be aware of how the drive stacks up on several features, not just one. With Government agencies establishing security, reliability, transportability, and ease-of-use as high priorities, the choice narrows down to a handful of products. When security, capacity, reliability, and performance are taken into account, Olixir’s drives are unmatched.