IBM and Sun launch encryption for tape

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By  Published  September 22, 2006

Proof that the security and storage worlds are becoming closely entwined came with IBM and Sun both launching technology that allows users to perform encryption on their tape drives, this month.

IBM launched its IBM System Storage TS1120, which features encryption technology as standard. By performing encryption at tape level, users can achieve a number of benefits, IBM claimed.

These include the ability to tightly compress data, meaning less storage space is needed. IBM said that early measurements suggest that there is no appreciable performance degradation during the reading and writing of encrypted data.

The real benefit of encrypting at tape level is that if the tapes become physically lost, the user will not have to worry about losing the data contained on them.

This can be a tremendous boon, especially in countries where companies are required by law to report potential security breaches regarding personal data to their customers.

If a firm were to lose a number of tapes it could mean having to contact hundreds of thousands of customers; a costly undertaking that could also damage its credibility.

“Demand for the new data encryption drive has been off the charts, with IBM already exceeding its internal goals,” said Andy Monshaw, general manager, IBM System Storage.

“The reason for the demand is simple — data loss and identity theft continue to plague corporations and consumers alike. Today, a new level of securityis available to corporations that want to ensure their data will never be accessed if it is ever found in the wrong hands. In the case of stolen or lost records saved to tape or disk, encrypting data renders the records totally unreadable.”

The drives feature a number of innovations in encryption key management capability, designed to allow customers to ensure that the tape can only be decrypted by authorised parties, and the decryption keys are available when and where they are needed.

Sun Microsystems also launched encryption technology for tape drives this month, with the debut of the Storage- Tek Crypto-Ready T10000 tape drive, which can be set to encrypt data as it records it on the drive.

Sun’s tape drive is supplemented by a Sun Storage-Tek Crypto Key Management Station, a separate Sun Solaris workstation that manageskey encryption duties.

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