Smart disk to protect laptops

Monday, 12 May 2003, 3:18 PM EST

Firms looking for a way to secure sensitive information on staff laptops may be interested in a new encryption tool from Thales E-security. Guardisk automatically secures all files placed on the hard disk, preventing them from being accessed if a laptop is lost or stolen, according to Thales.

Guardisk is currently being deployed by UK government departments, but will be available in a commercial version later this year. It consists of a module that replaces the hard disk of a laptop, plus a contactless smartcard. The user must have the smartcard and supply a password before the laptop will boot up.

"Our module replaces the standard 2.5in hard disk with a slimline drive plus security hardware. It looks just like any hard disk to the laptop, but it won't operate unless the smartcard is present," said Thales' director of marketing, Paul Jackson. Guardisk also encrypts all data on the drive using a 128bit AES algorithm, securing it even if a thief were to disassemble the module and try to access the hard disk directly.

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